Posts Tagged ‘Thorr-Axe’

I love doom. 2015’s doom has been in some places, magnificent. It is the most primal and emotional subgenre; the closest to the progenitor riffs of Iommi and ghostly wail of Ozzy. There has been some triumphs this year in this genre, and here are the Killchain top 10. It contains some of the same albums I put forward to the Sleeping Shaman as my top ten, but some have changed.

10. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – The Night Creeper: A last minute addition to the list, where the Deadbeats swoop in to amaze with their groove ridden psychedelic doom. The journey continues deeper into the bowels of doom

9. A Dream of Poe – An Infinity Emerged: An album designed to wring pure emotion from you in every way. Crooning vocals, mourning riffs and a creaking atmosphere builds into one of the gloomiest pieces of gothic doom art this year. Affecting in the most primal way.

8. Thorr-Axe – The Gates of Winter: Another masterpiece of riffing, a crushing swing of the doom sword to smote the enemies below. Thorr-Axe blend some hardcore tinges into their swelling post metal/doom mix, and the result is a heady album of bludgeon and glacial power.

7. Paradise Lost – A Plague Within: Yorkshire doom masters bring the heavy, the gothic melancholy, and just about everything else in their arsenal to create a monolithic slab of deathly doom majesty. Another prime example of how the golden oldies never fail to amaze or deliver.

6. Pentagram – Curious Volume: A triumphant return for one of doom’s legends. ‘Curious Volume’ sees Pentagram regain their place as one of doom’s figureheads with swaggering groove, achingly heavy riffs and Liebling’s soulful croon sounding better than it has in years. Don’t close the casket on them yet…

5. Shrine of the Serpent – Shrine of the Serpent: A pure evilness abounds in this three track crushing death/doom from these US newcomers. This is the sound of misery crushing you into nothing, with a fetid stench of death about every riff and every vomited incantation. Doomed to destroy

4. High on Fire: Luminiferous: RIFFS! That’s pretty much the whole modus operandi for High on Fire, and ‘Luminiferous’ delivers a metric fuckton of riffs. Matt Pike and co have always possessed this primal power in voice, riff and drum, and ‘Luminiferous’ may be their most definite statement yet.

3. Lucifer – Lucifer I: The sultry, smoky occult doom stylings of Lucifer bring me back to the feelings of joy last year when I encountered Mount Salem for the first time. The groove and the simple beauty of each riff is hypnotic, while the vocal hooks keep you from wandering. Stunning.

2. Windhand – Grief’s Infernal Flower: The band you rely on to fill Electric Wizard’s space when they’re off watching horror movies and smoking weed. Windhand have an uncanny knack of writing these dense, monolithic riffs that rumble through your very bones. Psychedelic groove that drags you to the void

1.Undersmile – Anhedonia: The scorching primal beauty of ‘Anhedonia’ is clear for everyone to see. Balancing heft with glacial beauty, melancholy with crushing power of riff, Undersmile’s 2015 effort was one of the finest records in any genre I got this year.

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Originally published at The Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/reviews/album-reviews/t/thorr-axe-gates-of-winter-cd-dd-2015/

The name Thorr-Axe was what attracted me to this band. I’ll admit it, I read it and thought, ‘there’ll be some fine, sword swinging Grand Magus style doom right there with a name like that.’ I suppose it seems a bit daft after you think about it, but sometimes a good name can get you far in this world.

The grandiose build of ‘Open the Gate’ is a swelling, scene setting song. It feels like the trek to the base of the icy mountain, the start of the journey, with battles and frost to come. ‘The Seer’s Vision’ is the following moment, where the bludgeon begins. There is a grand heft to the riffs, coupled with a harsher vocal performance than expected adding a bit of rawness to it. There is a coupling here of the blood and thunder of doom and the shimmering coldness of atmospheric black metal.

The crashing directness of ‘Four Hooves’ is much more directly doom, although at a much higher tempo. There’s also even tinges of hardcore about it, a feeling that also rears its head in ‘Mountain Crusher’. It is more of the direction that Neurosis took than anyone like Sick of It All, but there’s a definite influence in there somewhere. Black Flag maybe. Thorr-Axe are definitely not your average sword and shield battle doom band, and that’s to their advantage really because no one does it better than Grand Magus anyway.

The slow, grooving swagger that powers the initial moments of ‘The Forging Ritual’ is a particular highlight for me; a lurching riff of low end blues that contorts into a sludgy gallop. Thorr-Axe aren’t a band that seem comfortable in one place, confined within one genre. They mix in elements of doom, sludge and black metal, with dashes of post metal atmospherics. They allow riffs to breathe, crank up the intensity (like the bug eyed spasms of the title track) when required, but also have some lush icy moments of vastness that are just sublime (again, see the huge ending to the title track).

The skull caving ‘Descent’ is a good example of the mixing of styles. The crush of doom, the nihilistic bent of sludge and the vocal rawness of black metal meet within five minutes of pure metal. The ghostly intermission is a moment of calm; of tranquillity before the storm of the fourteen minute plus closer ‘Awakening’. ‘Awakening’ is the piece de resistance here, a titanic slow burner that detonates in a hailstorm of sludge riffs, whilst adding dashes of vintage doom and nasty, angular hardcore thunder. When the glacial, atmospheric black metal parts appear at the end, you realise what a brilliant closer it is.

Thorr-Axe look to have put together one of 2015’s earliest watermarks for quality sludge doom with all kinds of interesting bits. ‘The Gates of Winter’ is confident in its quality, and Thorr-Axe show they aren’t afraid to tinker with their formula in order to produce results.