February 21, 2020 On Thorns I Lay – Threnos (Album Review)
Alongside bands such as Nightfall and SepticFlesh, On Thorns I Lay debuted playing Death Metal in their formative years as an intricate part of the Greek underground scene. With roots that date back to 1992, they actually began as Paralysis, changed their name to Phlebotomy in 1993, before finally settled with probably the best name, On Thorns I Lay.
Releasing Sounds of Beautiful Experience in 1995, they followed up with Orama in 1997, Crystal Tears in 1999, and Egocentric in 2003 while their sound steadily shifted more toward Doom Metal. Unfortunately, there was 12 years of silence for the band before they made a return in 2015 with Eternal Silence before dishing out a solid sorrowful effort with Aegean Sorrow in 2018. Now in the second chapter of On Thorns I Lay, they are back yet again with their latest effort Threnos on Friday, February 21st, 2020 via Lifeforce Records.
Their eleventh full-length output, it could be argued that never has an On Thorns I Lay album lived up to its poetically tragic meaning such as this. A powerful seven tracks mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö, “The Song of Sirens” gifts the ears with a melodic siren carried on the guitars of Chris Dragmestianos and Akis Pastras. The atmosphere is tantalizing and foreboding, and the appearance of Antonis Venturis’ sorrowful piano piece in the midst of the song descends it into a Stygian conclusion of darkness. In the second track, “Ouranio Deos,” the drums and guitars coalesce in a dreamlike state until Stelios Darakis slows his drums to a patter. This is joined only by euphonious strings, and the patient murmurs of a woman in Greek.
Later on, “Erynies” unleashes Stefanos Kintzoglou’s demonic, baritone growls and a unique twisting of synth notes and guitar rhythm. Quite beautiful, it ebbs and flows with distinctive evolutions before returning back to its roots. As the briefest track, “Misos” speeds along with a crushing pace set forth by the drums in its intro. That in mind, the wicked riffs bounce and tremble in the chorus as Stefanos barrels through lyrics making “Misos” easily the most brutal of all the songs off of Threnos.
Throughout Threnos the tones and resonance unleashed by Pastras and Dragmestianos on guitar are textured and dynamic. Additionally, Jim Ramses gives the album a dark cloud of low frequencies for its depressive mood, while Kintzoglou’s rough vocals have a way of melding with the distorted sonics and accentuating the inhuman layers. However, for anyone not accustomed to the infinite length of songs common in Doom Metal, the tracks here, while of a decent length, change up and vary enough to make the experience intriguing.
In this, Threnos sets a tone of desolation and gloom, but accents this with moments of vivid reprieve using harmonious strings or Darakis’ smashing percussion. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Threnos 4 of 5 stars.