Thantifaxath | ‘Sacred White Noise’
I realise as a reviewer we have a duty to be objective, but it’s extremely hard to do that in the case of this debut full length from Thantifaxath.
Because frankly, it’s like someone has looked into my head, worked out a formula made up of everything I’ve ever loved about Black and Death and then made an album after studying the results.
I am all too aware you won’t all share my view on this but for me, this is pretty much the perfect metal album. So you’ll have to forgive my complete inability to control my enthusiasm here for once.
From the deranged introduction and insane opening guitar line of “The Bright White Nothing At The End Of The Tunnel” to the final, dying moments of howling wind that close the climactic “Lost In Static Between Worlds”, “Sacred White Noise” is an exhilarating storm of energy and ideas , ethereal and visceral in equal amounts.
Like a lot of the best metal of the last 30 years, it feels like it was beamed into the players from some other and more fantastic universe than the one we inhabit.
A much darker universe, but one with layers of vibrant colour hidden in its cosmic folds.
Thantifaxath aren’t without recognisable influences.
Their way with a well-placed spiralling riff, guitars ascending and descending as they crash against each other, has “Dimension Hatross” era Voivod written all over it.
And the manner in which subtle keyboards emphasise and colour certain passages over high speed riffing calls to mind both Nocturnus and (perhaps more so) a young Emperor on more than one occasion.
But the main lesson they’ve learned from these old masters is one of how to invest this violent music with an imagination and sophistication, rather than simply battering along mindlessly.
There’s such clever song writing at work here.
They’ve mastered the art of taking jagged, disparate elements and making them into smoothly flowing songs. The stunning “Where I End And The Hemlock Begins”, for one example, seems to hinge around variations on a strange guitar phrase, playing around with it, repeating it in a different key or rhythm at times.
Even though you’re not hearing exactly the same riff, it anchors the other twists in the song perfectly.
There are so many little subtle details that add shade in places too – the hair raising surge of violins in “Lost in Static..”, the distant clean voice singing along eerily with the guitar line in the middle of “Gasping In Darkness” – added to the clear, spacious production the songs really come to life.
But you don’t need to appreciate all that intricacy if you don’t want to. You can just stick on the headphones and bask in the sheer force when the blasting ferocity that opens “Panic Becomes Despair” comes rushing over you, or raise the horns in triumph when the closing section of “The Bright White Nothing..” kicks in.
And as complex as some of these riffs are, they’re also catchy as fuck and you’ll find guitar lines tucked away at the back of your head after a couple of listens. The thrill factor on the album is high from start to finish.
Even the carefully placed instrumental breather “Eternally Falling” offers a different way of creating a sinister atmosphere instead of being just a moment of calm.
In setting the stage for the second half of the album if anything, it catapults you further into the darkness.
I’m possibly reading way too much into it – it might just be a side effect of watching too much “True Detective” and reading too many sketchy esoteric books after all – but given the titles, the flow of the album as a whole, the Qliphothic reference in the band name .. it’s tempting to think there might be a concept at work here.
A theme of transgressing the human and giving oneself up to the void, of a turbulent journey through some sinister underworld, of (as Unholy once famously put it) “Satan and the mysteries from space”.
Even without the lyrics in front of me, if that’s what they’re going for they’ve succeeded in making a record that’s evocative of such a nightmarish vision.
Thantifaxath have nailed a sound that’s both familiar and fresh, free of the rapidly aging tropes that demarcate much of what’s currently going on in terms of popular extreme metal – there’s no “post” anything here, thank fuck.
And while it takes inspiration from the Death, Thrash and progressive strains of the metal tree, it’s a definitively Black Metal record played by a band who have developed a personal take of their own.
They’ve made a totally addictive record with a timeless quality, and one which is likely to pull off the rare trick of pleasing both staunch underground nerds like me, and quite possibly (given the right push) more fans of more populist acts like Behemoth or Watain.
An exemplary debut album from a band of immense potential. Wether you recognise it or not, this is the beginning of something very special.
5/5 – Jamie Grimes :: 11/3/14
This is a track from Thantifaxath’s last release, as new ones arent up yet. There is however a new track streaming at Invisible Oranges, here – Get it while it’s hot!