By: Chad Murray
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Released on October 29, 2016 via Lay Bare Recordings
The foreboding disembodiment of the gothic cover artwork should be a good indicator to listeners of the album’s core. It’s an obsidian slab of doom and gloom-infused post-punk encased in a tomb of noise and electronics.
The album begins with imposing gallows of ambience in ‘Tympanum’, there’s something about the contrasting bleakness and blissfulness that to me evokes one word; penance. The heavy shroud envelopes the album and yet, at the same there is melody. When the vocals begin on the second track they are flanked by a ghostly Gregorian chant and the lyrics speak of a religious yearning in a monastic framework. Staunch atheists and all-considering agnostics, do not be put off, it’s about suffering for your principals and virtue struggling against temptation and pain.
It’s perhaps interesting how themes of the album all tie into the idea of self-harm; medieval monks who’d whip and strike themselves, lyrics that suggest an undying sadness and music that at its core is uplifting and serene and yet its voice and its underbelly is as bleak as that of Christianity itself. That’s not to condemn the religion by the way, just a lot of its so-called practitioners over the past two thousand years as well as its involvement in some of the darkest times in history.
‘Nave’ takes the album into a moment of clarity cascading glacial ambient blasts at the listener like a winter frost. It builds a false sense of security before ‘Hung From A Tree’ throws the album back into brutalist depths of entropy and abrasion with a dizzying cacophony of industrial beats and an impenetrable wall of sound.
Following another ambient respite in ‘Ambulatory’, ‘Skin to Jade’ takes the album in a new more electronic and accessible direction; it has a more direct post-punk sound as opposed to the recurring monolithic doom metal blasts of distortion and colossal punching bag drums that pound through the earlier sections of the album. It’s interesting how in many ways the album is all about ascent and descend and exploring duality and extremes; THIEF does a good job of dunking the listener’s head under the water pushing to the point of near asphyxiation and dragging the head back out into the oxygen before asking a question and dunking it back in like an interrogator. ‘Crack an Eye’ even starts off with an underwater vocal sample that permeates in the shallows of the track yet, it is clear that once again this chaotic duality in the album is dragged to the foreground; the track bounces through the album’s electronic elements, its monastic goth centre and element of shoegaze, industrial music and doom with the result being a whirlwind of the album’s elements that violently throws the listener once again through the core of the tracks enforcing its identity before splintering apart.
Thieves Hymn in D Minor has a powerful uniformity and is well-sequenced and arranged as a whole; part of its strength is that it feels like one monolithic work sinking deeper and deeper into oblivion like the slow destruction of the self. Always unravelling a little further into disassociation until all of the elements are left as broken fragments of a former whole.
Listen to the full stream of Thieves Hymn in D Minor exclusively here: