Outwardly, Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Thou present as monochromatic miserablists who live their lives under a black cloud of intense loathing for themselves and everything around them. The band’s extensive discography is littered with dance floor ditties and make-out classics like “Fucking Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean,” “Rats and Mice and Swarms of Lice,” “Helen Will Have Her Revenge on New Orleans,” and the cheery like. The artwork that consistently adorns their releases generally looks like the inside of a schizophrenic 18th Century artist's mind. Meanwhile, their music errs on the side of tune low, play slow, and try not to blow your brains out on the floor.
Occasionally, a diverse or unexpected—or rather trickster/prankster side—emerges from Thou's shadows. The list of bands they have covered is as wide as it is long. Everything from Black Sabbath, Shellac, Vic Chesnutt and Nirvana to Minor Threat, Pygmy Lush, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and many more have been given the Thou treatment. One of the first times I saw them live, bassist Mitch Wells was doing his best Les Claypool: bass slung up by his nipples, fisherman’s hat tilted on his noggin while adorned in an ALF shirt. If you understand the insidiously wry and rebellious significance of the purveyors of wrist-slitting doom/sludge wearing an ALF shirt in public, then you know how little Thou is concerned about image. You should also know that you and I need to hang out more.
The band’s fifth full-length, Magus is set for release at the end of next month; in the lead-up, they’ve issued a trio of EPs all possessing vastly different sonic directions. Each EP fleshes out particular aspects of the impending Magus that arrives at the end of August. The EPs place sonic diversity in the spotlight and show how spire-high and sewer-low the boundaries of doom/sludge can be pushed.
Listen to The House Primordial here.