THALAMUS (Subterfuge) CD
I discovered this Swedish band only about four years ago when Grooveyard Records released their debut full-length 'Beneath A Dying Sun'. This slab of 1970's influenced classic hardrock was very pleasing to my ears, and still is. It was a prime example of the fact that music does not need to be on the cutting edge of style in order to be quality. What THALAMUS lack in originality on this debut they more than make up for sheer, riff-a-licious kickassery. It's kind of like sinking your teeth into the best pizza you've ever had - it's well-known and you've had similar stuff a million times, but for heaven's sake this one is absolutely delicious. That's how I feel about 'Beneath A Dying Sun'. No wonder, then, that I was really looking forward to the next album. But THALAMUS allowed itself three years before releasing something new.
This, however, was no new album but a 5 track CD, sarcastically entitled 'Sign Here For Nothing' (sounds like a side blow directed mainly at the music industry). It was like a preview for the upcoming new album, because all tracks were leftovers from the studio sessions for 'Subterfuge'. And here, too, THALAMUS managed to convince me with great songs. In contrast to the first album, the band delved deeper into the 1970's, largely due to an additional organ that has been brought into play. In doing this, the metal edge would be left by the wayside although this does not mean that THALAMUS has lost its heavy, ballsy sound. Little after the band signed to Transubstans Records, and I think that was an equally good choice for both parties. As already indicated above, 'Subterfuge' continues along the same line as 'Sign Here For Nothing' and once again provides a fresh take on the heaviness of the 1970's. The classic rock vibe is strong on this album. You can tell this is the work of some passionate rockers with a clear appreciation for vintage hardrock in the vein of Deep Purple, Rainbow or Lucifer's Friend. Added to this is a great liking for more or less new bands such as Abramis Brama, Trouble and Supershine. But once again, THALAMUS prove that they are more than the sum of their influences. This band play with such obvious gusto that it's hard not to get swept right along with them.
Moreover, they know to turn great riffs into great songs. There can be no better example of this than 'Still Dancing On My Grave' as well as 'She Sells Desolation'. These two songs are packed with mind-blowing riffs and loaded with fantastic hooklines. Not forgetting the vocals of guitarist Kjell Bergendahl; his clear, powerful voice serves as the perfect counterpoint to the thundering twin-guitar work while the backbone of the band comes in the form of a tight groovin' rhythm section. The doomiest track 'When Goblins Cheer' adds further to the variety of 'Subterfuge' as well as 'Blind', that throws in a little bit of funk for good measure. As you can see, this album is no one-dimensional affair, even when there is still a main focus on the riff. It's an all-around excellent second release and I haven't grown tired yet with repeated listens for weeks now.