Thrawsunblat II: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings

It would be easy to dismiss Thrawsunblat as a Woods of Ypres side project, but that would be a disservice to the folks involved, even if the spirit of Woods of Ypres frontman David Gold ( who tragically died in 2011) lingers austerely in the eves of Thrawsunblat‘s misty, cascadian hues.  The band consists of Joel Violette  who started Thrawsunblat and enlisted Gold’s assistance in 2010 and who played also played Woods of Ypres‘ last album. It also features  the diminutive but powerful freelance drummer  Rae Amitay who has served with the likes of Mares of Thrace, Castle and was involved in the Woods of Ypres tribute, where this project came alive once again. Rounding out the trio is Brendan Hayter, who along with Amitay was hired to be in Woods of Ypres before tragedy struck.

But musically, this project has a vast array of influences. Notably I hear a lot of classic Vintersorg and Borknagar in the semi folky,blackened, layered guitar work and especially  in Violette’s exceptional clean vocals where he not only channels Gold’s somber croon, but manages to imbue Garm, ICS VOrtex and Vintersorg in stunning fashion. First track “Lifelore Revelation”is a bit of a misleading number, even if its one of my favorite tracks- it has more in common with Finntroll, with a bouncy piano, Finnish gait and gallop and while it stands out amid the rest of the album, I loved it and actually hoped for more.

The next tracks “Once Fireveined” and “We, The Torchbearers” are more indicative of the albums overall atmosphere, with  lavish, organic, Northeastern throes that imbue mists, woods and damp, epic sprawling scenery. Violette’s evocative vocals steal the show (amid the standard black metal rasps), but the trio have obviously formed an innate close bond through tragedy that carries through over the music, even if the recording was done in different countries. The you get the album’s second little shift in the somber pub shanty, “Goose River (Mourner’s March)” which also arises again for “Maritime Shores”. “Bones in the Undertow” could have come from Borknagar‘s Epic or Universal  (and been one of the better tracks on either), and comparatively, the following  title track sounds like a lost track from The Olden Domain.

The aforementioned somber ditties  as the albums longest cut “View of a Million Trees” and one of the albums standouts “Borea (Pyre of a Thousand Pine)” are the most recognizably Woods of Ypre‘s -ish on the album musically and vocally, but Voilette and co.  have done a good job of keeping Thrawsunblat‘s identity intact while still having nods to Gold’s distinct tone.  Case and point my second favorite track, “Song for the Nihilist” where a catchy but melancholy chorus is sandwiched between some superb, vaguely viking/Celtic mid paced chord progressions and rousing, marching riffs. “I am the Viator” (complete with electric fiddle) puts a exclamation point on the album with an almost Suidakra sounding riff and melody with a grizzled, maritime Northeast sneer. I hope the last 2 songs are indicative of the band final sound as they forge their own identity rather than meld Vintersorg and Woods of Ypres, as good as it does sound, as the more stern, Celtic/Irish hue promises something pretty special should they flesh it out with the considerable skill and experience the band already have.

My only teeny gripe with an otherwise certain year end list contender is that the albums 3 years writing and recording process is obvious in the album’s sometime uneven shift in styles (Finnish folk, black, Celtic, doom, etc). You can tell the trio had a hard time trying to balance paying their respects to Gold while keeping the project as a more unique entityl, but Gold’s death and the inevitable impact it had on the band members bleeds through in the melancholy hues that spring up a bit randomly. Still, it results in some mood and a well deserved, poignant homage to Gold amid some already stellar music.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 1st, 2013


  1. Commented by: bast

    Album´s pretty sweet

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