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(47:09, Autumnsongs Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Sudden Dereliction 8:15 2. Suicidium 2:01 3. Exiled Witness 5:49 4. Maternal Mortality 6:45 5. Fear of Water 6:29 6. Mother Free 5:41 7. Purgatorial Membrane 2:38 8. Finite 9:31 LINEUP: Geir Venom Larzen – guitars; drums; vocals Haakon Markussen – keyboards; vocals Erik Andaas – bass; vocals Petter Falk – vocals With: Mette Jensen – vocals; flute
Prolusion. The Norwegian band MATER THALLIUM was formed in 2012, initially conceived as a one off project to be concluded with the release of their first self-titled album, as with many other such ventures the project took on a life of its own and is by now a more settled regular band unit. "Abandoned by the Sun" is their second studio production, and was released through the Norwegian label Autumnsongs Records in 2014.
Analysis. Mater Thallium describes their music as progressive doom metal, shortened to proom, and cites bands such as Black Sabbath, Candlemass and King Crimson as important influences. One might also note that the main members of the band have a long history with the Norwegian prog-rock band Procosmian Fannyfiddlers. It is the stated influences of this band which is the most important detail here though, as this is one of the relatively few bands that actually do sound quite a bit like all their stated sources of inspiration. The compositions all tend to revolve around a similar structure, typically opening with a cinematic prologue of some kind, and as the song itself unfolds we're treated to alternating sequences of gentle and more powerful themes paired off against each other. Typically, the verse passages will revolve around light toned plucked guitar details with careful backing from the rhythm sections, while the chorus section, main interludes and transitional phases will sport dark toned riffs, more often than not sporting a vintage Black Sabbath-tinged sound, in arrangements of a profound majestic nature. As the compositions evolve, organ or Mellotron will be added to the proceedings, further emphasizing the majestic characteristics of the powerful sections or adding a further soft sheen to the gentler ones. Occasionally we'll also be provided with a more dramatic build up with sickly or disharmonic elements creating more of a twilight-zone atmosphere of the kind where one might get the association that a lurking horror briefly reveals itself. A few subtle details here and there add a slight folk music vibe to the proceedings too, but more as an occasional effect to add depth and scope to the proceedings rather than as a defining feature as such. Falk's slightly flat and slightly hoarse vocals fit these landscapes quite nicely, and while not a vocalist that manages to elevate the total experience, his contributions are effective and well executed throughout. This is a well made album in all aspects really, with a slightly closed in, oppressive sound that suits this kind of music quite nicely, and the band is able and willing to add or detract enough to the core components used to make the songs interesting throughout, and with a couple of brief, atmospheric pieces, tossed in along the way, that break up what might otherwise have been an album a bit too much of a one-dimensional affair as a total experience. A quality production, although I have to admit that I don't think their invented genre to be one that will see a widespread use.
Conclusion. If you enjoy vintage, mid-‘70s progressive doom metal, then the dark, gloomy and somewhat oppressive sounding landscapes explored by Mater Thallium might be ones you should seek out. They cite Black Sabbath and King Crimson as inspirations, and while the presence of the former may arguably be said to dominate, aspects of the latter aren't all that hard to uncover either. Not exactly Black King or Crimson Sabbath, but if those name constellations come across as intriguing then "Abandoned by the Sun" is an album that merits a quick listen.
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