Thought Eater
Bones in the Fire

On the always esteemed Grimoire label comes the debut from instrumental doom/sludge/prog/metal weirdos Thought Eater and their full-length debut, Bones in the Fire.  These Baltimore bruisers do Maryland proud with their mash-up of influences that seem to encompass The Fucking Champs, Karma to Burn, Life is Abuse Records’ luminaries Yeti and Tarantula Hawk as well as early Neurosis and lord knows what else.  They’ve got their own special sauce too as this twisty, turny divebomber attack throws a series of punches of one type then has you guarding high when you’re expecting a grinding breadbasket low.  Tempos fly off the handle, ugly riffs appear and disappear then just when you think you’ve got it figured out they come at you with some kind of thrash riff.

Part I of the title track is a tonal assault with some of the fattest bass heft, loudest guitars and most head-cracking drum sounds around.  The in-house production team at Grimoire of Noel and Phil did their due diligence and then some on this one.  A hulking Tool styled bass line hooks onto a hypnotic repetition while the stomach rumbling guitars and crashing drums soon give way to glistening, gleaming stoned-out guitars that have a touch of mid-90s space rock weirdness to ‘em.  Crazed stop/start breaks, dizzying arpeggios and other such complexities are only the teaser for what turns into a festering onslaught of doom riffs fattened up by that big, bulgy bass presence and a rain of cymbals n’ stormy beats.  It’s got the weight of modern Karma to Burn but there’s something even weirder happening here and Douglas Griffiths’ insane guitarwork jettisons into a turbulent cosmos just outside a NYC noise-rock alleyway.  The grooves repeat all of the great parts enough while constantly layering on new tricks, including a charging double-bass thrash drum attack courtesy of mean ass skin pounder Bobby Murray.

“Pantomimic Dances” streetsweeps the aural cavities with angular, frantic white washed guitars and jazzy fluctuations between double-bass meets near grindcore blasting.  An elephantine thrash/doom riff interjects the proceedings, though it’s hardly indicative (nor lasts long enough) to allow one to predict where the tune will head.  Darin Tambascio’s constant bass-y sludge overflows atop of everything else while the guitar goes headlong over a cliff into alternating psychotic freakouts and indie melodies that erupt into volcanic sludge.  There’s really more happening here than a reviewer can keep up with, yet it never feels cliché, unfocused or done simply to show off.  This song and all of them go places and this one’s soothing, cleanly plucked acoustic breakdown is the stuff of instrumental magic.  Just don’t let it lull you into too much of a submissive place because this song rips into riff-snortin’ groove and thrash-y insanity thereafter.

“Speak through Dreams” pastoral, acoustic opening is loaned a foreboding, overcast darkness thanks to swipes of distorted riffage coming through, dense n’ gravelly bass holding down the fort and rollicking, constantly moving drumming knocking your brain slaphappy….you feel safe and secure and then they come at you with some kind of thrash/raga hybrid that smacks the senses with a lead pipe.  The entirety of the band’s sound is sucked down a rabbit hole of sludge/doom groove where Alice’s head is impaled on a pike and the Mad Hatter is loaded on hashish n’ opium.  There’s all kinds of strange 80s thrash lead guitar breaks laced into the fabric as well that keeps things fresh, inventive and intense throughout.  When you feel that they’ll hit brake they floor it and vice-a-versa.  Later on the kind of call n’ response melodic jangling that Don Cab made their bread n’ butter on up to and including American Don comes loudly, clearly through the mix.

Starting life as a low end, droning, Melvinsy sludge “Covenant” soon turns into rapid fire black metal drumming and noisy, choking semi-melodic guitar runs that also reckon of the aforementioned bleak genre.  As the longest track and album centerpiece it’s quite a weighty proposition.  Once the rank Norwegian darkness opens back up, the skies roar and a downpour of viscous, compost stinking sludge soils the air.  It’s about as heavy as it gets and it’s a relief when another round of acoustic manna alleviates the suffocating smog.  What follows is the most slug trail gross, elephant heavy sludge/thrash disgust that I’ve ever heard.  Once again when they bring the acoustics back I let out a long sigh of relief.  Part II of the title track picks up where Part I left off and it furthers those weird, progg-y Tool gone doom rhythms but beefs things up with hard-charging, oddball sludge riffs that are so fat they’d but open a cast iron belt.  Every instrument is draped in this fucked-up, brain cooked psychedelic phase/flange that pans left to right and devours every piece of your eardrums.  Closer “Umwelt” switches gears completely by being an engaging piece of folky, gorgeous acoustic guitars and droning keyboards.  It could feel like a tacked on endnote but it’s expansive, hitting all of the right notes during its progression.

Bones in the Fire is a light years progression from the material Thought Eater delivered on their only release to date; a split with Iron Jaw Guru.  They were good then but this record is light years beyond the band’s humble beginnings.  Anyone into instrumental stuff that’s as heavy yet complex/technical as it gets will do well to pick this one up, a coup for the band itself and another total winner from the always reliable Grimoire stables.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
June 14th, 2018

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