This world is a breathing mechanism. The ghosts of the machine are the sirens on its shores. They hammer you like the parasite that you are, through tunnels of existence. But existence does not care for your quest, for its hiding underneath the universe, feeding on itself.
This is the spirit of the ambitious Thorns full-length debut and at the time, much anticipated album, finished after seven years of labor (and jail, but gossip is irrelevant). First of all, the music displayed here is not industrialized black metal; it is pure black metal, build on industrial foundations. The difference is quite clear: the oh-so-heavy guitars, without the usual buzzing and stuffed with lethal harsh sound, do all the talking, while big-boss craftsmanship, dipped with the secret ingredient and grinning dark-glow, sitting behind and running the show. From time to time, as in the chilling “Shifting Channels”, appear the rest of the gang – harsh samples of metal pieces collide, elevator engage downwards and the ghosts of the machine having the time of their life. This is much the essence of this album – an inquiry of the human soul within an estranged world. The despair, the fury, the anguish. It seeks throughout the man-made matters, what’s left of the riddle of existence on the way of becoming this all-might mechanism, devours all with the stiff and severe ghosts shaped as guitars. This is one troubling album.
The ever-known black metal reference is related much with coldness. Thorns’ music takes this sobriquet and lifts it to the moon and beyond. This album is like the fresh-cold scalpel, as pulled from the depths of the freezer, in order to cut through the lungs. It’s sharp like an army of needles and as black metal is supposed to be, and moreover: Its guitars represent exquisitely the raw-waved renaissance of the leading Norwegian black metal units of the late 90′ and the beginning of the new Millennium – shifting the genre into new dimensions throughout more complex songwriting, extra aggression, more sterile sound, industrial touches and dirty breaths that in retrospect redefined the genre. Loosen albums like Mayhem’s “Grand Declaration of War”, Satyricon’s “Rebel Extravaganza” and Dodheimsgard’s “666 International” broke existing boundaries and contributed to the blessed development of the genre that sought to be stuck up its own over-melodic prodigies that flooded the scene. It was a fresh new start to manifest the qualities of black metal in somewhat new manner, dark and cold as before, but loaded with new raw energies and edges that could make this planet explode. Also the new attitude toward sources of inspiration, showcased in the previously mentioned craftsmanship, combining power-structures of the industrial zone with all-time loved black metal aggressions and other characteristics such as typical super-drumming and anger-spitting vocals (in this album, the vocals are performed by scene heroes Satyr and Aldrahn), all tapped into this frozen elixir of a dead world.
Thorns manifest this attitude in the finest manner. The ultimate masterpiece of the album is the double-named track, “Underneath the Universe”, starting with a sheer and deep ambient creation a-la Amon Düül, continuing with a searing martial guitars attack, turning over again just to let the coldness follow. This highlight emphasizes the greatness of this effort – this is a genuine portrait, a haunting vision, as seen from the hectic underneath. In overall, the album is bewitching in its straightforward eagerness to capture every bit of this bleak vision. This haunting presence is manifested through the entire album, from the first song, “Existence” which hammers like those merciless sirens with the ever-accurate Hellhammerian blast-beats and the harassing shriek that seems to be stuck until eternity inside your brain, until the closure “Vortex”, a paralyzing hymn of disturbed beings, with liturgical background of lost paradise, dramatic soundtrack samples, and above all, the slight appearances of a detached piano, grieving endlessly. Seems like a fine way to exit.
01 – Existence
02 – World Playground Deceit
03 – Shifting Channels
04 – Stellar Master Elite
05 – Underneath The Universe, Part I
06 – Underneath The Universe, Part II
07 – Interface To God
08 – Vortex