Album Review: Thorn - Evergloom
Reviewed by Sam Jones
Thorn are something new in death metal today, having only formed in 2020 out from Arizona, United States yet their youth shouldn’t be confused for lacklustre ability for, considering that this is a one-man death metal band, Thorn rose to prominence quickly through the release of their first auto album, Crawling Worship, back in 2021, before following it up nearly immediately with last year’s Yawning Depths. Now, another year on, and signed into Transcending Obscurity Records no less, Thorn are poised to unleash their third full length record with a mid-September release window in mind. I recall enjoying their earlier material so when I saw Evergloom become available, I felt I owed them my attention. So, let’s dive in and see what Thorn have crafted this time round.
Where many death/doom records choose the option of downtuning their soundscape do as to create a crushing, suffocating aesthetic, Thorn have instead opted to loosen the grip they have on their record, allowing Evergloom’s evil to come across with nothing to constrict it’s songwriting. We feel this the first moment the record opens up as they make it abundantly clear Evergloom will be an album that seeks to drive home the nail deep into your skull, and their riffs being the bludgeoning hammer. It’s quite a refreshing change frankly, for audiences will recognise the band aren’t going to suppress them with any overtly crushing tone to the point where it becomes tiresome to continue. By giving Evergloom all the room to breathe, and it’s riffs the space needed for its tone to assume the vast breadth they possess, Thorn craft a soundscape that’s enveloping to the nth degree, one that you feel all around you as opposed to merely atop you.
The vocals also work in tandem with the freed songwriting too, for the bellowing, guttural nature of the delivery, grand in scope and ambitious in its reach, allows the record to feel as if it’s goals are limitless and there is no horizon on the earth this record cannot find. It aids the band immensely that, within that massive vocal performance, there is the slight hint of a baritone element hidden deep within their frontman’s throat; it’s only minimal and it doesn’t contribute too greatly to the overall vocal delivery yet it imparts a grimier nature to the record that, on the whole, is fully committed to an empowering soundscape.
Something that might take regular death/doom fanatics aback is the pacing by which this record moves at. Much like how they’ve approached songwriting and aesthetic, Evergloom is a record that’s keenly devoted towards the death metal side of things. So, you may get guitar work and attitude completely in line with doom metal but the band are playing with a rapidity easily located in death metal. The band’s particular fusion of the two styles has resulted in a work of death/doom that’s particularly savage for the putrid aesthetic their sound establishes is juxtaposed by a flurry of riffs and blast beats that rarely seeks any semblance of slowing things down. It’s only exemplified by the drums as we’re subjected to one double bass pounding after another with little reprieve to be had along the way, and then the drums implement blast beats which only heightens the record’s maniacal pacing.
What did take me by surprise though was the sheer speed the riffs were playing at. We’ve established that Thorn wanted to create a death/doom record that was a little different, for its pacing is far faster, and it’s instrumentation more refined towards devastation than your typical death/doom trudging experience, yet I was still startled to note the blistering speed the guitar work was moving at. When you pay attention to the riffs on show, not only do they possess a great weight to them as come down on us but they have a speed that’s striking to behold. It’s as if they can’t wait to get from one sequence to the next as they fly at us with breakneck speed. Yet in spite of the speed they’re performed with, I never felt like I was missing something integral to the songwriting since the tone they’ve been applied with has rendered the songwriting with distinct shape and form, so you’re always able to follow what’s happening even as the band change things up on a whim. A track like “Phantom Noose” perfectly exemplifies this as the band undergo a blistering performance that’s only amplified when the drums throw in a gravity blast of all things. It binds the record together to create the sonic equivalent of a supernova, one we’re all caught up in.
In conclusion, Evergloom is a record that absolutely improves over 2021’s Crawling Worship. Considering this is basically a one-man death metal band, it just speaks to the overwhelming talent that Brennen Westermeyer possesses, for Evergloom is an outstanding work whether it were solo or composed of multiple members. Death/doom can be difficult to get right, but in this instance Thorn go the complete opposite direction and establish a record that doesn’t need to be weighed by death/doom’s drawbacks. With lightning fast riffs, songwriting sequences that flow one into the other and drumming that even incorporates the occasional gravity blast into its performance, Evergloom is an album that continuously surprises and enthrals its audience. I really enjoyed this album and while I was familiar with Thorn through Crawling Worship, it wouldn’t be news to me should Evergloom turn up on many people’s top records of the year lists for it truly is that good.