Thrall - Aokigahara Jukai
Moribund Records
Black Metal
8 songs (45:43)
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Charles
Thrall’s last album, Vermin to the Earth, neatly fenced off a little niche for the band as world authorities on a particular kind of black metal; a heavily groove-oriented kind filled with stomping 4/4 backbeats and rhythmic hooks. At the time, I thought it was one of the stronger albums of 2011, and revisiting it now it sounds even better- super catchy but at the same time dripping with sour atmosphere. Aokigahara Jukai continues in a fairly similar fashion, but certainly not identical. The same ideas and sounds continue to make the band tick, but I also get the impression that they wanted to make things a little ‘blacker’ this time around.

So, there are plenty of songs here that could fit nicely on Vermin to the Earth, in terms of both style and quality. The title track offers a particularly nasty seven minutes. It is neatly and cunningly balanced, with pestilential grooves- a little reminiscent of something like Black Crow on a Tombstone by Satyricon- before the rhythms become more awkward and the tone becomes danker towards the end. Closer Slaves also deserves a mention for the virulence of its hooks; it would work perfectly as an evening-closer at some kind of black metal party night.

Elsewhere, as I indicated above, the ‘grim’ side to this has also been nourished a little more than it was on the last record. See for example Longing for Death, Of Hate, or Ubasute, all of which spurn the sense of groove so evident elsewhere. The last-mentioned, in particular, really stands apart from much of what surrounds it. It switches from Thrall’s more usual 4/4 beat into a more meloblack 6/8, conjuring the frosty melodies of Dissection and the like. The effect is compounded by the vocals: normally a rasping shout, here they move closer to a mad shriek akin to Arrrrrrrach’s work for the terribly overlooked Welsh band Ghast. Sat right in the middle of the track listing, it gives Aokigahara Jukai a slightly more uncertain feel, at odds with the hooks on display elsewhere, but reinforcing Thrall’s blackened credentials. Another very solid release.

Killing Songs :
Aokigahara Jukai, Slave, Ubasute
Charles quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Thrall that we have reviewed:
Thrall - Vermin to the Earth reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
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