Thanatomass – Hades

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Artist: Thanatomass
Album: Hades
Label: Nomad Snakepit & Living Temple Records & LVX MorgenStern
Release Date: May 12, 2023

Location: Russia

I’m going to be completely honest right off the bat here, this is a draw for my favourite album of 2023. Up until now I had a solid lead in Heart of Silence by At the Altar Of The Horned God, with few other contenders. However, the minute I heard Thanatomass’ debut full-length album Hades, there was absolutely no question in my mind of its worthiness of this title. This is one of the rawest, most evil and primitively produced releases I’ve ever heard, and I simply cannot get enough of it.

Russia’s extreme metal scene has always had a way of bringing a whole different level of raw biting edge to their music, but I think it’s fairly safe to say that even by Russian standards Hades is a standout release. The album draws clear inspiration from both Sarcofago’s 1987 cut classic INRI in production and atmosphere, and from 666 by Germany’s Katharsis in raw ferocity and energy. The faded, echoed mixing of the vocals, coupled with the muddled, faded unpolished guitar and bass both work together and fight each other to create a punishing maelstrom of ferocity that sucks the listener in and offers zero respite or solace for its entire duration.

The one element that really stands out to me in this mix is the drum work, which is simply amazing and pierces through the unrelenting assault of the other elements. It offers a large dose of rhythm and melody and at times is almost hypnotic in its delivery, sounding somewhat ritualistic in parts, as if leading some dark satanic ritual.

Guitar-wise we are treated to a blend of raw furious black metal and war metal shredding and headbangable blackened thrash/speed and death metal influences. The tone is what really makes it so powerful though, it’s just so unpolished and buzzing, like a swarm of angry insects harassing the listener. Then you have those wild wailing riffs that spiral out of the mix and bring an added level of menace to the mix. The bass work blends into this mix, adding even more distortion and muddling and I mean this in a positive way.

The other major highlight on the album are the vocals, which are completely bestial in nature and accurately capture the essence of the album’s incredible and unsettling album art. They are clearly black metal vocals by nature, but they have some death metal aggression and power infused in their delivery. They pierce through the storm of swirling instruments, presenting as wild, rabid howls that have an impressive amount of power behind them. However, the band chose to intentionally strip them back by lowering their volume in the mix and adding a faded, echoed effect. This allows them to retain their rabid energy and raw power but gives them an unsettling supernatural effect in the process, as if they are coming through to our realm from hell itself. If vocals could truly be evil, I would say that these come pretty goddamn close. Every so often the band also deliver a pained, King Diamond or Tom Araya style shriek that rings out subtly in the background of the mix.

The tracks on the album are laid out as either furious or atmospheric short form interludes running 1-2 minutes or monstrous 8–12-minute epics. It isn’t every day that you get music with their ferocity of war metal presenting you with a solid 12-minute run-time. You would think that this would wear the listener down mentally, physically, and spiritually and to some extent you would be correct. However, the album never really gets to a point where it becomes too much thanks to its ingenious mixing and mastering, nor does it ever feel dull or repetitive.

If you’re looking for an example of what the album is all about I would recommend checking out Templvm Carnalis – Vomit Ceremony, the track perfectly represents the release, showcasing all of its best elements. The drum work in parts on the song is particularly impressive and will have all but the staunchest black metal fans banging their head in enjoyment. The other essential track to listen to is the album’s closer Retromass (Morbid Ordinance Of Doom), which happens to also be the longest song on the album, coming in at over 11 minutes. This song displays some of the best atmosphere on the release and again gives us some stellar and at times hypnotic drum work.

Overall, I couldn’t tell you a single thing that I disliked about this album, I thought that the band took a highly unique approach to the genre and made something truly special in the process. If you’re a black metal fan in any capacity I recommend listening to this album. However, if you are more of a fan of the melodic side of the genre and enjoy clean crisp production, then this definitely will not be for you.


Listen to and order the album:


Bandcamp

Spotify

Tidal




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