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Album Review: THRAWSUNBLAT Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings

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In the right hands, music is a life-sustaining force. On their second album, Thrawsunblat have channeled the pain of real-life tragedy and death into a work of staggering might. Featuring the remaining members of Woods of Ypres, Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings is informed by that band’s unique sound, but it is by no means derivative. Folk elements are married to blastbeats, black metal belligerence, stark melodies, and riff upon ripping riff. Echoes of early Woods of Ypres albums coalesce around the rousing sound of Amon Amarth, the finest bits of Borknagar’s catalog, and deep draughts of perseverance.

Folk music as a genre quite often lacks sincerity to my ears; its constructs feel exploitative of cultural contrivance. The folk aspects of Thrawsunblat’s music feel utterly genuine; these are drinking songs and laments with which I’ll gladly sing along to (that’s what I’m doing at this very moment). The whole affair turns on authenticity; it helps that Thrawsunblat barely jiggle the needle on my cheese-o-meter.

Mainman Joel Violette has a keen songwriting skill, a trait he shares with his departed bandmate David Gold. He’s not afraid to sing, and this he does with abandon. I quite dig his voice. The clean-over-scream dynamic works perfectly for these songs, producing memorable results. Mr. Violette unleashes a massive bounty of riffs, spanning a diversity of styles that coalesce nicely around stirring melody and guitar work sent directly from the golden hall. There are a couple of compelling acoustic tracks which serve as focal points for the folksy ethos. These songs are nothing if not addictive in their execution.

Rae Amitay’s drums conjure some of David Gold’s playful cadence, but they succeed in carving a unique and articulate path of their own. Cascading blastbeats are deployed with a martial precision when needed, but Rae’s rhythms roam far and wide when freed from combat. The drums comprise an important voice on Continent of Saplings, as does Brendan Hayter’s resonant and just-right bass work.

Woods of Ypres always rode on crushing waves of melancholy; Thrawsunblat weather that storm and sail on to sober victory. Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings is the elixir that cures your ills, this is the metal that feeds our empty souls. Stare death in the face and soldier on.


You can stream the entire album below and buy it at Thrawsunblat's bandcamp page:
Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings by Thrawsunblat

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