With the July 27 release of Thou’s EP Rhea Sylvia, the heavy music community was left waiting for the finale of the 2018 Thou release schedule — Magus, the band’s first full length since 2018.
In the meantime, Rhea Sylvia demands your sacrifice. At this altar, leave your comfort, your preconceived notions about metal (and Thou), and your mental cleanliness. There’s a sense, listening to the release, that you’re hearing the recording of a dark, backwoods ceremony that the fundamentalists don’t want you to know about.
The band is as deep and dark as ever, but there are elements that are somewhat new to Thou’s music. Thou subtracts nothing on the EP; instead, they just add to the work they’ve done in the past. Beside the swampy sludge metal that’s formed Thou’s framework over the years, on Rhea Sylvia, there’s what feels to be a heightened melodic element.
Heavy music fans know that screamed vocals can be, in a way, “beautiful,” but on Rhea Sylvia, there are clean vocals intertwined with some of the gloriously and ridiculously heavy songs. That incorporation continues on with a trend set earlier in 2018 on Thou’s Inconsolable EP.
Rhea Sylvia‘s clean vocals do sit low on the register — this isn’t opera. The clean parts feel almost like they’d be at home in some dark folk music like Evan Patterson from Young Widows put out two records of as of the EP’s release, putting Thou’s music in yet another striking new context.
Those occasional clean vocals swing in and out of music that is itself at times curiously melodic. Via that element, there’s a sense of the heaviness surging time and time again as you make your way through the record, which can be exhilarating. It’s like the musical equivalent of ocean waves viewed at night, or the sounds of thunder rolling through the sky. Alternatively, perhaps the record shares the sound of massive cliff scenes overlooking oceans.
Whatever your preferred metaphor, Rhea Sylvia has got that thrilling, natural “massive” quality that you hear in some forceful, and perhaps experimental, metal. Here, it’s just darkened, lowered, and turned thick and swampy.
Listen to it below on Spotify.