Reviewed: November 1, 2021
Released: October 29, 2021, Napalm Records
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
German melodic black/death metal masters, Thulcandra, are back with a new album. This is one of my favorite bands of this genre due to them being steadfast and true to the genre. They get a lot of flack for being Dissection rips offs when actually as much as it is accurate is as much inaccurate. Jon Nötveidt created a really special sound with Dissection’s classic first two albums, why shouldn’t bands build from that? And that is exactly what Thulcandra has done. With each album they have continued to build upon that sound but they did so while carving out their own identity in the process. Their last opus, ASCENSION LOST, was where they were beginning to find their own identity. With their new album, A DYING WISH, they seem to have forged that identity into some serious molten metal.
One can not talk about this album and not mention that the bass parts of this album were the last recordings of their late bassist Christian Kratzer who, sadly, passed away in August 2020 from an accident. Maybe the name of the album is related to that incident. Speculation aside, what is apparently clear hear is that his last album with the band could be considered their magnum opus. I knew this would be a special album when they released their first single from the album. “Funeral Pyre” opens the album in all it’s epic glory. Starting with some soft acoustic guitars, it builds to an opening melodic riff only to blast you any second with some amazing tremolo riffing. They way this band uses tremolos is brilliant. Of course the riffs drive the song but they also add that distinct melody to the song so you can instantly recognize them. The dual leads in the middle of the song also help create this eerie atmosphere that is also a signature of this band. Of course the Nötveidt sound is still going to be present and the intro to “In Vain” perfectly represents that sound but the song is so much more than that. The use of the keys at the halfway point of the song gives me goosebumps; so much feeling there. The layers to this song are many and is the perfect example of how Thulcandra has built upon the origins of this genre to make it their own.
Which leads me to my next point; some bands can create an auditory journey with their music. They can create a sound that you can not only hear and feel, but picture in your mind. Thulcandra is one of those bands. Each song of theirs can draw you in to where you can experience melodies that bring visions to mind…visions much like their album covers. That cold, icy atmosphere is a major component of their songs. Songs like the epic “Devouring Darkness” is prime example. Even the song title has an icy way about it starting off with some eerie acoustics then straight into the blasts and tremolos. But it’s the melodies of those riffs that are the magic here. It almost reminded me of how Valfar used tremolos in Windir. As we move along in the song we peel away the layers and realize this song is brilliantly written and perfectly executed. The title track closes the album and pretty much fits the mold of the previous, epic, cold, and utterly breathtaking. Once again the dual leads and the beautiful tremolo riffs dominate this song and create the perfect atmosphere.
If we want to be honest, Dissection never returned to form, even with Reinkaos; so I believe that its safe to say that Thulcandra have taken over the reigns of the melodic death/black genre. With their last album I said they were finding their own identity. With the release of A DYING WISH, they have climbed to the top of the heap. Thulcandra can also be proud that the last album Christian Kratzer played on turned out to be their very best. A bittersweet moment but the perfect way to say good bye.