Hailing from Bournemouth, hairy Neanderthal throwbacks Thuum care not a jot for the civilised mores of their southern home, preferring to channel the dark, corroded riffs of dirty sludge metal, twisting them into unusual shapes and offering up a four-track EP that will have fans of early Mastadon, Neurosis and Down working themselves into a frenzy.
The first thing that hits home is just how well-recorded this debut EP is. Riffs, vocals and percussion are all rendered with considerable clarity and it’s clear that the band took the time to get ‘Through Smoke, Comes Fire’ right. Such attention to detail is important, particularly as the band had already turned heads with their 2017 Bloodstock appearance, and there’s no question that Thuum’s gargantuan riffs benefit from a quality mix, so as to allow the nuances in the band’s song-writing to shine through. It’s a brave move, too, to open your debut recording with a near-six-minute instrumental track. Simply entitled ‘Intro’, it is a brilliant move, simply because it places Thuum immediately outside the norm, putting the emphasis on the band’s impressive musicianship as they blend fiery riffs with subtle atmospheric flourishes to great effect. Rather more to the point, and considerably more in your face, is ‘Worthless’, a reckless, stampeding song that stretches out to a hazy seven-minutes. It’s not all tortured riffing and acid-washed roars, and there’s a classic rock sensibility that underpins the heroic guitar solos, even as the rhythm section of Joe Gilbey (drums) and Luke Prince (bass) do their utmost to leave you with your skull broken into teeny-tiny pieces. As capable of delivering a potent groove as they are of allowing a sense of wonder to creep in in slower moments, Thuum make no attempt to hide their considerable ambition, and it makes for an endlessly interesting listen even after the initial desire to head-bang frantically has worn off.
A shorter track, ‘Hafgufa’ is where the Mastadon comparisons become rather more apparent, particularly in the rolling thunder drum intro which recalls the epic jams of ‘Blood Mountain’. A sure-fire mosh-pit killer, ‘Hafgufa’ is the perfect mid-point and helps to separate the two epics that form the bulk of this EP. Emerging from a heavily processed drum riff, ‘through smoke, comes fire’ takes its time to fully build up its head of steam, guitarists Bear (also vocals) and Andy Nevitt laying down increasingly frantic riffs before Bear’s Neurosis-esque vocals finally emerge, some two minutes down the line. Neatly interpolating mangled roars and an Ozzy-esque clean vocal, Bear lives up to his name here on the EP’s title track, his hulking present an ever-present threat amidst the cataclysmically heavy grooves the band unleash. No wonder the band chose this final beast of a song as the title track – it pretty much summarises all their strengths over the course of seven, sweat-soaked minutes that pass far too quickly.
Benefitting greatly from the expertise of local producer Jack Irving and mastering engineer Brad Boatright (Stranger Things OST, Iron Monkey, OHHMS), Thuum have delivered a blistering four-track EP that perfectly builds upon the epic live performances for which they have become known. Savage enough to keep the most ardent metalhead happy, there is, nonetheless, more to this EP than a simple battering, and what will keep you coming back are the hints of melody and the atmospheric flourishes that mark this four-piece out as a band to watch, and closely. Thuum are poised to launch themselves on an unsuspecting public and their ascent is all but assured – epic is hardly the word. 9