Thoren’s ‘Gwarth I’ Feels Like A Model Of Exciting (And Dark) Instrumental Heavy Metal Music

Thoren’s Gwarth I — out November 9, 2018 — charts an impressive path forward for exciting, heavy instrumental music. The work maintains an otherworldly, narrative-esque sense, but the release also remains grounded in the fact that it overflows with impressive and enthralling instrumentation.

The work doesn’t need vocals to maintain the listener’s attention. Instead, it grabs onto those who push play with an even greater force than it might have otherwise, taking them by the hand for what can only be described as a wild ride. Even beginning to pin down the work with genre descriptors feels like it wouldn’t do Gwarth I justice, but there are some useful comparisons to be made even still. The work feels like perhaps familiar, traditional, “huge” heavy metal sent through a series of blenders, chopping it up via increased technical riffing and even a sense of atmosphere. There’s a whole track plopped right in the middle of the grinding chaos that’s basically entirely acoustic. There’s not really an overwhelming sense of contrast, though.

The obviously proficient musicians have tapped into an experimental ambition that ties the acoustic work and the more frenzied material together. The track — called “Kos” — feels as much like an extension of the rest of the work as anything else, which says something important about the release as a whole. In short, the material doesn’t just pack blind, empty riffing. The album doesn’t just sound like a run of the mill heavy metal album without vocals. Instead, there’s a story being told, and a natural progression being traversed as one makes their way through the various tracks.

The band maintains a clear, crisp presentation, which sets them apart from others who might choose a more blatantly noisy path and highlights just what they have to offer. At the same time, though, the band gets mind bogglingly fast plenty of the time, spinning wildly along while never really shutting the listener out. The band treads a lot of lines, it feels like, staking their claim in the midst of an ever shifting musical landscape that extends in virtually all directions and proving all the more striking for it.

5/5 Stars

Listen on Bandcamp below.