Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Thine - In Therapy (2002) 76/100.

Shocks aplenty ahead for anyone who dares venture into the perplexing and puzzling world of British melodic metal band Thine. Their career is difficult to summarise since its been so unusual with regards to departures, influences and live performances with notable, but different sounding acts like Mayhem and Primordial during the late 1990’s. Signed to Peaceville Records for both of their full-length efforts, I expected Thine to have a massive following with cult status on the underground but it seems I was wrong. Thine generated a fair amount of positivity from critics and fans alike during the brief period they were most active for both their live performances and studio records, though they were never considered the epitome of British metal, or rock, a genre they blend well into their music. There is a temptation to believe that Thine could very well operate as a mainstream rock band, but their lyrics deal with matters that the mainstream world usually shun away from in disgust, including depression, misery and general self-loathing.

The debut took a number of influences and threw them all together with a sound held tightly by the firm grasp of vocalist Alan Gaunt, who has since departed the band for unknown reasons, leaving the current three-piece without a vocalist and a leader. It was his presence that kept the blend of unusual influences together as one on the impressive debut. From the rock era of Anathema, to Burzum and even Neurosis, Thine mixed and matched some odd sounds together, though the band had stated that they were aiming for something original -- something which they certainly achieved. In their own words, their records are very much “a love it or leave it” affair, including the debut which I’m rather affectionate towards since it sounds like a continuation of Anathema’s darkest days, though with a series of unexpected twists thrown in for good measure. The sophomore, entitled ‘In Therapy’ signals the last of the material released by Thine, though they’re apparently still active. Between the records, a period of four years, much has changed in regards to the bands overall sound. Although much cleaner, ‘In Therapy’ is still as dark and menacing as its older brother. The lyrics, especially, deal with themes that keep this record out of the mainstream limelight and still circulating on the underground many years after its initial release.

The lyrics are very personal, though I find Gaunt’s vocals to be too dry to perform emotively enough to sustain the content over a long period of time. His vocals tend to blend into the melody of the guitars, in particular, the longer the record goes on and the lyrics become less and less of an asset to the band, though they were never much of one to begin with. Gaunt’s vocals are challenging, especially against the backdrop of some of the more fierce guitar riffs, though these are far more infrequent than they were on the debut, which was more inclined to use heavier distorted patterns and, as a result, the atmosphere sounds very dreary. On occasions, unfortunately, this can give certain songs, such as ‘Never Learn’, or ‘Last Better Day’ a dull vibe to them in comparison to more upbeat numbers like ‘Contact Point’ which features some stirring riffs and some of Gaunt’s best vocals. Though the lyrics of songs like this may still be downtrodden and depressive, the melodies sweep in and under our feet, lifting us higher and higher with adrenaline pumping due to the infectious nature of some of the riffs on songs like ‘Contact Point’. Also, songs such as this perfectly highlight Thine’s use of multi-layered song writing, which includes better use of the bass, which is usually anonymous.

Songs like the upbeat affair of ‘Contact Point’ makes the artwork seem less surreal. The picture is of Alan smiling with a dark background, perfectly capturing the essence of certain songs like ‘In Red Rooms’ where his vocals truly begin to shine in the same way as Anathema’s main vocalist Vincent Cavanagh, though Gaunt’s voice doesn’t quite have the same maturity in it to perform on such a grand scale that both Vincent and Anathema perform so well on. The production has altered to accommodate a number of these changes, too. No longer is it as heavy as it was before. Listening to the debut could be related to trudging through dense jungle. It could be difficult at times, though it made itself at home amongst the darkest themes of Thine. The production has been cleaned up to suit the more personal touches, such as cleaner instrumentation as shown well during songs like ‘The Bar’, which has a very lazy and sluggish mood to it, differing from some of the earlier upbeat song, giving the record a sense of variety.

‘In Therapy’ is probably the lesser of the two records, though this may be due to the fact that Thine became more experimental with this piece. Though areas like the bass were missing in action for long periods and Gaunt’s vocals were just developing, the band churned out some notable songs like the self-titled one through a much more productive atmosphere. The fate of the band is unknown. Though it says they’re still active, members have moved on, including the vocalist and they’re currently unsigned. There has seemingly been no word of progress by the band in some time which is a shame because they were seemingly finding their feet with a new, more expansive style on the sophomore. In 2002, Thine were even playing shows alongside bands like Anathema and receiving creditable reviews for their music, including during live performances. As far as I’m aware, the band were writing and playing still in 2004, but since then, no word. ‘In Therapy’ establishes itself and the band as a marketable and worthy source of praise.

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