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Release Date: 26th July 2019

Record Label: Holy Roar

For Fans Of: Cult Leader, Baptists, Sumac

It’s the middle of summer and we in the U.K. have been enjoying the warm and sunny (albeit sporadic) weather. What music recommendations would complement this time of year? Pop? Disco? Why it would be nihilistic sludge metal in the form of Throes, of course!

In The Hands Of An Angry God is the debut feature length from Idaho metallers Throes, whose previous release was their first output, the EP To Dust back in 2015. The record established their dark and heavy style, drawing parallels to crust bands such as Cult Leader and Baptists, but whereas these bands often bounce between tempos, Throes for the most part kept the tempo low (that’s where the riffs are at their most murky). With the band’s debut album, not only was the tempo dragged lower, but so was the emotional tone of the music.

The album opens with powerful, guttural roars, supported by thick, sludgy guitars and pounding drums, immediately exposing the listener to the darkness that dominates the record. Despite the impressive and deafening weight behind the delivery (it’s intimidating to hear such rich, guttural vocals on a debut album), the lyrics take a back seat, with many of the tracks featuring no more than six lines of lyrics, often repeated. But with the vocals being shared, and the backing vocals offering higher screams to contrast the deep roars of Tyler Squire’s leads, the minimalist lyricism of the album maintains its interest.

Despite the heavy roots in sludge and crust, there are occasional moments where the band drift outside this classification. ‘They Never Spoke’ brings the groove elements of Will Haven to mind, focussing less on dissonant chords and more hypnotic rhythms with the lower strings. The instruments take a less chaotic approach on this track, with the drums providing a steady groove and the guitars acting less frenetic. By the time we reach the second half of the album, we hear what can be considered a Deftones inspired track in ‘Disillusion’, with sparse, arpeggiated guitar parts providing a bed for clean, reverb soaked and borderline whispered vocals from guitarist Phil Davis. It should be noted that the similarities to Will Haven and Deftones are isolated to the aforementioned tracks, and that these are the lightest moments of In The Hands Of An Angry God. There are no clean guitars present on the album, thick distortion is omnipresent, and bellowed harsh vocals explode out of the speakers. Think post-metal without the quiet, atmospheric bits.

Due to the low tempo and trudging riffs, the tracks are longer than average for aggressive music such as this, with more than half the tracks exceeding the five minute mark. As a result, some of the songs begin to overstay their welcome, while others feel as if they were two ideas glued together to extend the running time, when they could’ve functioned preferably as two separate songs. There are occasions where the tempo is boosted into more traditional hardcore territory, and the band are more than competent at high speed, but these tracks bookend the album resulting in the mid-section of the record relatively slow; and while this style and the songs individually are fantastic compositions in crushingly heavy sludge, their impact might be strengthened if juxtaposed with a few faster numbers.

With In The Hands Of An Angry God, Throes have created an incredibly impressive debut album, using dark and distorted sludge to create expansive sounds without the need of clean passages. Much like Conjurer’s debut in 2018, this record proves there is art to be found in darkness, and will provide Throes with the attention they deserve.

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Tracks: They Never Spoke, Carrion, Disillusion

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