No respite is offered and none expected as the first track alone of the Unraveling bears down on ears and psyche with punishing intent, and so it proves to be across the whole of the new EP from US trio Thera Roya. Consisting of three sonically ravenous and thickly intrusive songs, the encounter is a sludgy, predatory slab of post metal bred in the same creative bed as a Neurosis or Pelican. It preys on the senses whilst emotionally and physically exploring the depths of the band as much as the listener, an intent resulting in, at times, a fearsome proposition but one which becomes most compelling and invigorating with every listen.
The Brooklyn based band began in 2011, initially under the name The Badeda Ladies, and was formed by vocalist/drummer Ryan Smith and bassist Jonny Cohn. The line-up was completed the following year by the addition of guitarist Chris Eustaquio and after a single under their first moniker, unleashed their self-titled debut EP in 2013. Since then the band has been part of two split releases last year, with Sentry and Hercyn respectively, and released the single Fat Voyage towards the end of 2014. Their live presence has been just as relentless as their sound these past years too, tours with Furnace Head and Foe Hammer featuring amongst their own and a torrent of shows including stage sharing with bands such as The Great Sabatini, Three Faces of Eve, Hounds, and Hercyn. The Unraveling EP is the next episode of their fiercely volatile sound drenched in intimate exposure of the band’s emotions, and one that just grips from start to finish.
The new release is inspired by panic attacks, and as simple as that sounds, the songs within Unraveling venture into the very depths of its debilitating effect and more, turning out a maelstrom of sound and intensity spiralling out into other dark and destructive realms. As opener Anomie soon shows, lyrically the tracks are often hard to decipher such the raw and visceral delivery of Smith yet physically his aspect, as the music, leaves no confusion to the impact and turmoil they are investigating. The first song digs deep into the senses from its first breath, a sonic spear of guitar leaving them wincing before dark lumbering shadows prowl through ears on the spine of an infectious serpentine bassline and pierced by the random vocal squalls of Smith. In no time the track is crawling over and within the listener, sending out shards of sonic acidity and subsequently the bordering on insidious vocals. As corrosive as the track is it is also deceptively virulent, grooves at times finding an inviting swing even within the consuming tempest.
Body Breaker follows, quickly spinning a waspish web of caustic coaxing through raw guitar bait before becoming more agitated and concussive, which in turn springs another catchy groove led swagger. It is a proposal which is inviting in many ways yet still holding an imposing and abrasing texture equally bred by bass and guitar. Smith’s vocal squalls continue to uncage varying textures and flames of expression whilst his beats resonate on impact to punctuate the enterprise running through the smothering tsunami of torment and angst cast by Cohn and Eustaquio. Towards its climax, a calm sweeps over song and ears, melodic melancholy and haunted ambiences colluding to spark the imagination into a new twist of thought and emotion.
That closing exploration is taken on by the closing title track, in its own individual journey. Initially it is a blinding furnace of sound and intensity, and though it is based on panic attacks, Smith himself calling them Unravelings, the same kind of impact mercilessly shed by tortuous conditions like migraines are also applicable to an equivalent of the tempestuous blaze of noise. There are moments where the shearing energy and pressure subsides, allowing a glimpse of calm and peace before descending again with greater force and hostility. As across all tracks, there is no escaping the raw distress and anxiety swarming the senses or the gripping creative craft bringing the ebbs and flows, the peace and fermentation leading to an onslaught of crippling physical and emotional plagues in the sonic portrayal.
The Unraveling leaves ears and thoughts ringing but also provides a forcefully provocative and richly satisfying encounter which fans of bands such as Isis and Neurosis alone should certainly go check out.
Unraveling is available now via the Thera Roya Bandcamp.
Pete RingMaster 16/09/2015
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