Ragana And Thou Deliver One-Two Contorting Doom And Sludge Metal Punch On 2018 Split

Thou don’t seem to know how to take a break. That might be somewhat of an exaggeration, but in 2018, the Louisiana sludge metal band put out a full five releases. Their last — for now — is a split with the experimental black metal band Ragana, from out in Oakland, California.

Each band contributes their own unique sensibilities to the release, called LET OUR NAMES BE FORGOTTEN. The five tracks feel like a fitting reminder, really, of the shared foundation maintained by so many different strains of weird metal. Progressing through the release, there’s no sense of disjointed material or sloppy haphazard construction. Both featured bands sound notably different, but their sounds feed into and lead into one another rather than demanding the listener’s full attention and leaving little for anything else.

That feature perhaps exemplifies the grandeur of weird metal like doom and sludge in the first place. When stepping into the fray, there’s less of a sense of showing up as the next big thing or impressing someone with an individual prowess. In its place, there sits an understanding of the hugeness of what’s around us that we can only begin to grasp at with our music. They’re two distinct ways of looking at the world.

Ragana’s methods include carefully large but harsh “black metal,” with large open spaces filled not so much by emptiness or silence as unease and dread. This dread feeds into the band’s apparent intent to zero in on particular slices of feeling with each of their three tracks. These “feelings” transcend the lyrics — many of which Ragana repeat over and over — and stretch into cosmic territory. “Reaching for the stars” can prove a liberation — or a nightmare. Sometimes it’s both, and Ragana touch on this back and forth with their music beautifully.

Thou, in a somewhat familiar but still ambitious style, reach more directly into the depths with their two tracks of work on the release. Their instrumentals contrast as harsher and more drawn out, but prove in the end as something dark to get lost in. Material that drags the listener through the metaphorical muck doesn’t always have an outward facing bent, with footholds for the listener to hang onto — but Thou’s does. They’ve personified nearly the most dreadful dark imaginable.

The tracks, altogether, provide a thrilling and important backdrop for the ambitious heavy music listener.

5/5 Stars

Listen to LET OUR NAMES BE FORGOTTEN below on Spotify — and catch Thou on tour in fall 2018.