Thou – Magus (Album Review)

Music lovers who enjoy having their Metal sprinkled with a pinch each of Sludge and Doom need never to look any farther than the legendary band Thou. For the ones looking for a quick fix will need to first heed the following: the sounds and music possessing the band Thou are far different than what is typically heard within the genre. While there could be arguments against such a statement, the truth is found in every musical composition lacing every single song Thou has ever written. On August 31, 2018, first-time listeners will rejoice hearing Thou’s new record, Magus, being released through Sacred Bones Records, and will surely be in a state of bliss listening to its 11 tracks with a pair of headphones.

Louisiana resident Thou has been in the music scene since its first release, Tyrant, back in 2007, and has since released many, many albums and EPs throughout its career, leading up to 2014’s critically-acclaimed Heathen, an album that put Thou very much into the spotlight for a long while. Although a spotlight would seem superficial to humble band members these days, Thou should have seen this circular luminescence long since 2010’s Summit—but of course this is only an opinion of one person.

For years, Thou has sounded like its five members had once been in a war against an unseen enemy that had them surrounded; each member equipped with one weapon of choice to strike back the attacks, prevailing a victory against all odds in the end. But, far after the battle had ended, nightmares and sadness infected the minds of each member from such sights they had seen. Through music, the members of Thou took to another fight, trading in their weapons for instruments to rid the enemy now in their thoughts.

Singer/Lyricist Bryan Funck is like the General of his five-member platoon, possessing a blood-curdled voice strained from past battles where he had been shouting orders, fighting to be heard over explosions and gunfire, feverishly trying to keep his men safe. There is sadness in his voice, and on the new-album Magus, its demanding presence is heard on every track as Funck tells stories in front of walls so humongous in sound. From the moment first track “Inward” begins, to when last track “Supremacy” ends, the strength of Funck is how he matches the flow of the guitars, note for note, following their rhythms in perfect synchronization.

On Magus, this particular album showcases a much darker, wiser version of Thou, and could be heard as another version of Heathen, pretending, of course, Thou had released a super-deluxe double album, four years apart from its predecessor. Guitarists Andy Gibbs and Matthew Thudium are like the gunners of this platoon, providing protection for their General, for themselves, and the rest of their comrades. If guitar riffs could speak words, then those of Thudium and Gibbs could tell a million stories with every single one of their climbing notes. It is a style of playing better heard blasting from a speaker than read in some album review, but Gibbs and Thudium have always showcased some amazing guitar work throughout their career together, and it will be heard here on Magus. 

Drummer Josh Nee and bassist Mitch Wells together provide the bomb-like explosions heard on Magus. Seventh track “Greater Invocation Of Disgust” has a jaw-dropping opening with these two comrades leading the march into a fight against those strained thoughts of past battles; and right when Gibbs, Thudium, and Funck join this fight, the listener will have already tripped on his or her own jaw from how amazing these musicians come together. There is also a sick solo on this track, sure to cause drooling from any aspiring guitarist.

While Magus has 11 tracks, summing up to 75 minutes worth of sonic bliss, there are three really cool-sounding segues—songs “My Brother Caliban,” “Divine Will,” and “The Law Which Compels”—that are well-produced from friend/Recording Engineer James Whitten, who does an amazing job capturing every nuance of each instrument. Sometimes in heavier, more extreme-types of music, the bass is washed away in a sea of trebly guitars and cymbals, but Whitten has this magical way of making everything come together while separating the instruments apart from one another. The bass is heard, and very much felt; the guitars crunch and churn, but are warm, un-trebly, and focused; and with the drums having the most things being hit and smacked with sticks, every single one of those things are clear and airy, including the cymbals—thus helping these comrades in speaking their minds through their music: evenly and together-ly. It is also necessary to point out how Whitten created an interesting stereo image of Bryan Funck’s vocals, where, at times, the listener will hear more in the left speaker, but only a mere trace, or whisper of the same track in the right speaker.

Fans of the bands Grief, Body Void, and even Love Lost But Not Forgotten – a band which is in an entirely different type of genre, altogether, but was just as good – will take notice of Thou, an always-welcomed brother to the Sludge/Doom realm. Magus is a triumph of great music and great musicianship, captured on a well-produced recording—all perfectly realizing a truly great band. For thisCrypticRock proudly rates Thou’s newest album 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Magus:

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