A way to quickly repel my interest is to start talking about a band that classifies themselves as drone/sludge metal, as I seldom find anything in that genre that remotely interests me. But man oh man, was I ever surprised after listening to Thou’s EP titled Rhea Sylvia. Perhaps the shorter dose of this is what makes it easily digestible, and being in the right mood definitely helps it out. But this is actually pleasant and a little bit soothing at times.
You can get a bit of a blackened feel just from the vocals alone and how grainy the overall output is. But seeing that this is based around drawn-out riffs that make Pentagram look like speed metal, it’s pretty far removed. The longest track “Unfortunate Times” grabs you by the ear and fills your head with proverbial sand, feeling like you’re stuck in a super dry trip. “Restless River” is also stacked a mile high in layers and achieves exactly this in a shorter amount of time. You can pick up cleaner licks underneath the thick atmosphere.
Amazingly, clean vocals come in on “Deepest Sun,” which is where most of the soothing aspects are buried. But even beyond that, the bassy presence and calm flow of everything gives a settled feeling. Not sure if Thou were aiming for that, but it happened regardless. Obviously, there isn’t gonna be much in the realm of variation, so it’s hard to pick out other standout moments besides “Deepest Sun.” So I recommend hearing it as a whole.
If Rhea Sylvia were any longer (as I’m sure the full-lengths are), I probably wouldn’t be able to stick around the whole time. You also need to be in the right setting and not aiming your focus on other things, since this will tug at your attention. But as someone who usually dislikes anything drone-related, I recommend giving it a spin. Perhaps this is a good gateway release for the style.
Rhea Sylvia came out on July 27th, 2018, and can be heard in full right here.