Rue - Thorns
Hailing from Akron, Ohio, Rue are a relatively young and aspiring sludge metal outfit who have to date released mostly demos and EPs, with Thorns being their 2nd full-length in nearly 9 years. It more than makes up for the 3-year gap in new material with a hefty amount of doom-inspired sludge. Running a swift gamut between groove and aggression, slam and substance, hooks and hammering punishment, Thorns has it where it counts.
The title track, a softly spun acoustic introduction, is deceptive of the actual nature of this particular beast. "Brown" rips into existence with tom rolls and vocalist Jeff Fahl's distinctive roar beckoning the barrage. As the album plays out, the somewhat linear approach of "Brown" becomes prototypical and rehashes itself in various riff-fueled forms, a foundation of songwriting that will be more than appreciated for those in-tune with this particular blend of metal. What really sets certain moments apart is the attentive ear towards hooks the band shows an extremely solid knack for writing. "Brown" has an epic shout-along chorus that makes it an instant highlight, "For Thousands of Years" has a tight little bassline that truly shines when it's given the room to do so. For pure carnage without the "fluff", look no further than the likes of "Everfailure". "Sadaver" is a monster of groove and exemplar of the power of the almighty riff, probably the album's masterpiece.
Much of the 2nd half gets lost in a haze of similarity, but the overall results of Thorns are anything but borning. An energenic listen that lasts longer than it seems, Rue have impressed upon me a strong sense of songwriting that aptly couples the inherent aggression of sludge with the unpredictable hooks and harmony of more traditional heavy metal, a melding that may not be original but is always a thing to behold when done tastefully and professionally. Thorns belongs on the shelves of anyone daring to call themselves a fan of the likes of Black Sabbath and their ilk, even though it doesn't always adhere to that classic sense of melodic metal. The aggression factor is but an unwavering foundation to further the impact of the band's stylistic ambitions.
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