Thundra - _Angstens Salt_
(Black Dimension Records, 2013)
by: Mark Dolson (8.5 out of 10)
I'm not too familiar with Thundra's work, so _Angstens Salt_ ("Tears of Anxiety") is the first album from the band that I've thoroughly listened to. Based out of the Island of Karmøy off the coast of Haugesund in southwestern Norway, Thundra play a form of black / Viking metal (there's really no folky pomp to be found anywhere on this album) with some progressive elements. That Thundra's music is nestled snugly within black / Viking metal doesn't mean that their overall lyrical theme or aesthetic is such. On the contrary, I gather that this album strays away lyrically from typical black / Viking-oriented themes, and is far more oriented toward personal issues of existential struggles with everyday life.

The first thing that I noticed upon first listen to _Angstens Salt_ was how familiar the drumming sounded -- the style is quite particular and, at least to me, noticeable right away. After doing some research, I found out that the drummer for Thundra is none other than Harald Helgeson, aka Harald Magne Revheim, who played drums on Enslaved's _Eld_, which came out the summer of 1997 (at least when I got it here in Canada). _Eld_ was one of my favourite albums when it came out, and one of the reasons is that I found the drummer's style to be quite interesting; so when I first played "Angstens Salt" I was pretty pleased.

Aside from the fantastic production and mixing job -- everything is clear and powerful without sounding too clinical -- there are many elements about this album that I like quite a lot. While the blackened vocals of Steven Grindhaug are a little run-of-the-mill (they sound a bit like Jim Kjell from Gardenian or Mårten Hansen from A Canorous Quintet), his low-toned clean vocals and raspy croon are pretty interesting in that they add quite a bit of variation to the music.

Vocals aside, though, the music itself is really dynamic on this album in that there are songs -- and these are structured, crafted songs, and not just "instrumentals" with vocals thrown in over top -- that feature breakneck blast-beats and that trademark Norwegian style of black metal riffing (both melodic, atonal and aggressive) that many of us have come to appreciate since the early 1990s.

I also like the somewhat daring ideas on this album, in terms of the songwriting. For instance, in tracks like the monstrous "Purpose", the band interweave blast-beats, fast riffs, the bouncing thunder of the nicely audible bass guitar, intricate guitar solos, and slower, more mournful riffs that have this evocative ability to make you stop and reflect on life. Added to this mix of elements is some really surprising bluesy clean guitar playing -- which at some points, comes out of nowhere; but that's what makes it really compelling.

I don't know what it is, but there's an energy, dynamism and intensity on _Angstens Salt_ that captures that intense time of the mid-1990s. This is pretty special to me, since I'm of that age-group (40 is just a couple of years away -- probably not that far off from the band members themselves) that really fell in love with Norwegian black / Viking metal when it first started to hit the underground scene back in the early to mid 1990s. If you are a fan of older Enslaved or black / Viking metal with more progressive elements, then make sure to check this album out.

Contact: http://thundra.bandcamp.com

(article published 14/4/2014)


ALBUMS
9/24/2009 C Beskeen 7 Thundra - Ignored by Fear
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