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Thrall
Aokigahara Jukai
February 2014
Released: 2013, Moribund Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

A dense forest at the base of Mount Fuji, where the ground is mostly volcanic rock and the lack of wildlife casts an eerie silence over the vast expanse of trees. It is home to over 200 suicide attempts per year and demons are said to run rampant in the growth. To some, this may sound familiar. I am referring to the 'sea of trees', or 'Aokigahara Jukai' in Japanese, a title which Tasmanian black metallers Thrall have adopted for their latest musical offering.



One only has to watch documentaries about Aokigahara to know that translating the feel of such a tormented place into aural form is no easy feat. Thrall admirably step up to this challenge and they do it well, using their fuse of black metal, death, doom and crust punk to make the album a feast of repugnant imagery throughout. Vocals which are the equivalent of spitting venom leave no room for moments of weakness, backed up by hateful riffs and an avant-garde edge reminscent of Sigh which helps keep the listener's attention.



The problem with many albums like this is that it's all been done before. There's only so many times you can listen to music centred around misanthopy and anti-theism before it all gets a bit samey. However, Thrall manage to command and maintain interest with a variety of structures ranging from the doomy mass of 'The Pact' to the erratic drum clashings of 'Slaves'. Each song paints a picture of rotting corpses hanging from twisting branches, so much so that you can almost feel the despondency in the pit of your stomach.



Admittedly, it could take a few listens to get into Aokigahara Jukai properly, but the seamless blend of musical styles is likely to leave you hooked. This album is made for vinyl and the artwork is a conjuration of both intricacy and malevolence. Thrall have been around in various forms since 2005 but they could give lessons in despair to many of those who have been on the scene much longer.



Review by Beth Avison
Track Listing

1. Longing For Death
2. Aokigahara Jukai
3. Of Hate
4. Its Toothless Maw
5. Ubasute
6. The Pact
7. Ghost Chrysalides
8. Slaves

Lineup

Tom Void - guitar, vocals etc
Em Støy - drums & vocals
Okvinkalfa - bass
Ramez Bathish - guitar

Other reviews

» Away From the Haunts of Men
by Aaron Yurkiewicz

» Aokigahara Jukai
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

» Aokigahara Jukai
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team


Next review: » Thrall - Aokigahara Jukai
Previous review: » Thousand Year War - Tyrants And Men

Thrall
Aokigahara Jukai
February 2014
Released: 2013, Moribund Records
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Aokigahara Jukai is a name you will rarely find in metal, and yet is one of the most bleak and overbearing forests in existence. While many black metal bands are singing of Satan, war and some form of unending grimness they probably found down the road in the form of a dead pigeon, I haven’t yet come across a band that have tackled this forest as a topic until now. Located in Japan, the forest at the base of Mt. Fuji is almost devoid of life, containing very little wildlife, making it unnaturally silent. More importantly though, it is nicknamed the ‘suicide forest’ by some due to the high number of suicides that occur there each year. In short, it’s literally a forest of death. Topics really don’t get too much more brutal than that.



Forming in 2005, it too five years before THRALL released their first record, Away from the Haunts of Men. Returning in 2013 to release this, their third studio album, they are always proving to be one of Australia’s finest exports, following quickly int the heals of the likes of GOSPEL OF THE HORNS and DESTROYER 666.



The music is thick, sticky layers of cloistering distortion, which drones on minute after minute like crawling through the densest of bogs. The impenetrable suffocating sound is broken only by the agonized screams of vocalists Tom Void and Em Støy, whose voices struggle to be heard above the murk. This may be a wall of noise, but the layers are intricate, interweaving, connecting and then disconnecting almost as quickly as they had met and there is always more to be heard on the next listen. While many may describe it as straight black metal, Aokigahara Jukai is so much more than that. The bastard child of black, death doom and crust, even the most genre discerning ear is left trying to pick out where each section lies, but really what does that matter when music is this good?



From start to finish with this album I was left completely captivated, spellbound by the raw intensity Aokigahara Jukai. The black metal inspired ‘of Hate’ to the doom-laden ‘The Pact,’ there is not a moment it drops its standards of pure unadulterated smothering hate. It’s obvious everything about this album has been delivered with complete dedication and care, from the stunning album cover, to the final fading note, nothing has been forgotten, ignored or downplayed. The forest may be the end of the line for so many troubled souls, but let us hope its legacy is the just the beginning for this band.



Review by Caitlin Smith
Track Listing

1. Longing For Death
2. Aokigahara Jukai
3. Of Hate
4. Its Toothless Maw
5. Ubasute
6. The Pact
7. Ghost Chrysalides
8. Slaves

Lineup

Tom Void - Vocals and Guitar
Em Stoy - Drums and Vocals
Ramez Bathish - Guitars
Rampage Ritson - Bass

Other reviews

» Away From the Haunts of Men
by Aaron Yurkiewicz

» Aokigahara Jukai
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

» Aokigahara Jukai
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team


Next review: » Thrall - Away From the Haunts of Men
Previous review: » Thousand Year War - Tyrants And Men





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