Artist: Throwing Bricks
Album: The Burden
Label: Tartarus Records
Release Date: 28/10/2022
Location: Utrecht, Netherlands
Written by Alfred C. Key IV
When listening to music I try to find bands that are somewhat interesting or genre breaking. This ever challenging quest has led me to become musically cynical and to a degree pretentious. I have heard so much music from the age of fourteen till now that I wonder how I am still amazed at music. The answer is when a good band crops up and shows its colors by staying true to themselves. Throwing Bricks is one of these bands that has stayed true to themselves.
On this album they have experimented with a longer format than the genre that they hail from will allow. Each track is carefully written and sludges through phrase after phrase. From the emotional Shafta where the guitars are slowly plodding along in a reverb ocean. I’m not much of a fan of the genre that they’re in but this band has created a sound that is both rhythmic and emotional to a point that they border on art metal.
The opening track Bricks of Grace screams from a bottomless pit of emptiness from which there is no escaping whatever pain the song writer is feeling at the time. The reverb laden guitars tremolo like the violins of an orchestra breaking for a clean guitar segment. The endless amounts of suffering that the band invokes makes me want to curl up in a ball with my headphones on while they play through passages after passages. The vocalist Niels Koster screams over Baroness style riffs that paint a landscape of some forest about to be destroyed due to the mass expansion of the species. The songs are similar in construction making me wonder if The Burden is a concept album or if they are music that has been constructed with thematic elements to invoke a story. The influence of Meshuggah is apparent on the second track and although it is good I became really bored with the similarities of the riffs. When listening to this album the major question is how does an artist stay inspired enough to create something new? Throwing Bricks never really answered that question but does paint a picture with its sound by replacing the total rhythm based sounds of other bands in the genre with atmosphere.
As I listen while carving a totem pole to the gods of the earth and sky I am transported to another place where the forests of the world are greater. I see images of deer and wolves crossing the frozen landscapes of Europe and North America but with all the beauty of the primeval world I also see the iron and steel of the industrialized world. Smoke stacks from factories mix with the blue skies of their bass solos. Track after track supporting the idea that although we are in a world of transition we as a species will be able to save ourselves and return to a more natural way of living. The howl of the vocalist mixed with the locking of the drums that boost the ascendancy of Doubt. I see in Doubt the beginning of a loss of faith in humanity’s ability to be at one with nature.
The atmosphere created by the guitars leads one on a path that connects them with the nihilism of Endless Blockade. In this song I see the ocean covered with fog and in this fog the soul of the listener is transported into the abyss of a Black Sabbath style riff that carries a person on a wave so furious that we are hanging on for dear life trying to understand it. This music then asks the question “who are we?” and leaves us to ponder our reflections in the Hall of Mirrors. This track is truly heart-reaching: a clean guitar with subtle drums and a spoken word section that leaves one slitting their musical wrist and bleeding all over the listeners headphones. This band on this album moves into such an emotional state I have to pause the tracks periodically to adjust to the emotions that they are trying to convey. I would give this album another listen and I would suggest to the listener that they do not do it on a cloudy day. The fog of the instrumentation would only make an already gray day even grayer.
The female poet on this album hits every emotional core necessary to push this band’s music above the other. While listening to the message of the spoken word I am reminded of watching my grandmother die from old age with dementia. The description of a body as pale as paper and with thin rattling breath forces me to close my eyes to see what the hell she is talking about. The concept of this song invokes an art piece I once saw in San Francisco were on a lath recorder and surrounded by green blue curtain spoken word poetry issued forth. When listening I can see those curtains of emotion move revealing to me the body of the person the poet is speaking of.
I would recommend this piece of art to anyone who has the time to sit down and digest every nuance of the album because it is not easy listening for the faint of heart.
Listen to and order the album: