THUMOS (USA) – The Republic, 2022 🇬🇧

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Portada del 谩lbum "The Republic" de Thumos.Not so long ago, historical subjects in metal seemed something reserved for the more veteran NWOBHM bands, or, paradoxically, for modern black metal formations. Of course, this is an exaggeration: there are a good handful of power metal albums out there that deal with fantastic medieval tales, and many death metal bands that follow MORBID ANGEL‘s glorious incursion in Sumerian mythology. Nevertheless, in a field that has been quite influential in the last decade for metal as doom/stoner, especially if coming from North America, it is surprising to find something like this. With the remarkable exception of MASTODON‘s epic 芦The Czar禄 (and I’m probably missing several more), until I saw the album cover of The Republic I hadn’t realized how much I missed this thing.

THUMOS is pure modern-day doom, with melodies dominated by an overwhelming bass and a drumming game in which forcefulness stands out above any other consideration. In fact, the whole album (and all of THUMOS‘s discography to date) is purely instrumental. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, taking into account that it is an established tradition inside the musical style, in which we could name a few examples such as the Germans MY SLEEPING KARMA or the North Americans KARMA TO BURN, although聽THUMOS musical approach resembles more that of bands as PALLBEARER or ELDER (both with frequent instrumental sections in their music). However, what’s more surprising, is how they manage to imbue the historical (or historical-philosophical) subject in a music devoid of vocals. The more direct answer in the musical sense is a strong compromise in creating solemn compositions, with melodies that usually resort to black metal’s epicness to emphasize its grandiosity.

When taking a look at the production, it is easy to notice the predominance of the bass, which relies on a mighty distortion effect to direct the compositions. In tracks like 芦The Virtues禄 is where its presence can be best perceived, with a bass line that introduces the song and remains omnipresent until the very end. Guitars, which are heavy on reverb, play a role that could be defined as almost secondary, normally as tremolo melodies characteristic of atmospheric black metal. On the other hand, even if it’s an essential part of this musical genre, the drums feel relegated to the background due to a somehow irregular mixing, which masks some subtleties of this instrument, like the ones that it exhibits in the second half of 芦The Unjust芦. There is only a relevant moment concerning the variety of styles, which is the ending electronic section of 芦The Spindle芦, and which I would have liked聽THUMOS to give a more prominent role on the album. Tempos are, of course, slow, something that shouldn’t come as a surprise coming from a record framed in the doom/stoner context, but I would have appreciated a small bonus of variety in the rhythm. This, alongside the production’s ups and downs, can make The Republic a tough listen on the first spins, and a little extra attention from the part of the listener can be required to fully appreciate all the nuances hidden in its ambitious 60 minutes.

It is indeed an ambitious album, as demonstrated both using Rafael’s The School of Athens as the front cover, and the election of song titles, all inspired in Plato’s Republic. This is an epic album from its beginning to its end, and its main drawback is, precisely, its epic proportions. A comparison could be made with the political experiment Plato led in Syracuse: at a theoretical level everything seemed right, and in practice, things didn’t go as well as planned. To make justice with the comparison (no pun intended), probably THUMOS will know how to redirect its approach and trace a long and fruitful career in the near future, as the strong foundations are already laid.

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