In accordance with my music taste, the easiest way to my heart is by being heavier than hell and being unyielding about it. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. Even still, you need to make it interesting – I have standards after all. I’m always on the hunt for something supremely heavy that speaks to me and while there’s been a good number of albums that work on that level for me this year, I think I may have found the apex so far. Throes mix sludge metal with some post- elements and hardcore-tinged leanings which is a recipe for a slayer of an album. Throw in the name In the Hands of an Angry God and you set the tone perfectly.
I’m no stranger to Throes! In the premiere for “They Never Spoke”, I praised them for their lamenting, mournful approach to high-caliber sludge metal. It wasn’t quite doom metal, but it was a slower affair and everything seemed to fit together nice. In the greater context of In the Hands of an Angry God, it still holds up real nice, but it is definitely the slowest, lightest (which feels weird to call anything on this album ‘light’) track – by far. Every other damn song on here is fast, or at least faster, and drives the hammer down so hard to the anvil, it breaks it in half.
“Bad Meat” alone is a chest punch of an opener. With a vocal roar, walloping drums, and hopelessly thick guitar tones just destroy any peace around. It has an almost hardcore soul to it with guitars grinding pretty mercilessly throughout. The song structure is always morphing the guitars into something neat using different flavors of feedback to accent an already chaotic mix. Naturally, thoughts of a moshpit come to mind, but a particularly lawless one where you’re truly in a last person standing scenario and if your hands aren’t broken by the end of it, you didn’t go hard enough. “Nothing New” is another powerhouse, structured like a D-beat track got buried in a malignant mire, drudged up with the sole purpose of bringing pain to all those around.
Maybe I fibbed a bit because Throes do toss us a bone in terms of musical dynamics and a mood other than full-blown slaughter. The bone still holds massive weight though – it never isn’t. “Disillusion” has a menacing start with ghastly vocals seated in the bottom of the mix while drums and guitars set a tone that will assuredly lead to more apocalyptic destruction – and they do. A more pounding outro finishes the track off, but it feels so earned after that ominous precursor. Its lead into “Ruin”, a track with a similarly ominous track, also punctuated that track well. The title speaks for itself; the vocals are absolutely savage, drums marching along to a derelict beat that reflects the hollowness of the souls the music portrays.
In the Hands of an Angry God manages to be a wildly fitting title, the music sounding like a god holds the earth in their hands, witnessing with seething rage what we’ve done to the planet seemingly gifted to us as a privilege and benevolence of the divine, only for us to soil it. Now we tread through the muck we ourselves drowned the world in, crying out for help we know won’t come. Perhaps we don’t deserve the help – perhaps we as a species needs to take responsibility and turn the world around, but it is too late? Are we biding time until all our lungs fill with a flood of mess we created and the sun sears our skin until we fall into a suffocated, numbing death? It’s this kind of grim inevitability that Throes carry into their art with them. By way of the heaviest playing they can muster, appealing writing, and just enough variation to the formula to ensure you can’t take your ears off of the impending doom they personify, Throes are easily a cut above the rest.
I listen to a fair amount of music. I haven’t heard anything this unrelenting since Herod this year; this even surpasses it in some spots. Heaviness is a real cathartic element to place in your music for many reasons, so something like Throes will always gain great favor with me. Couple that with their forward-thinking expression of the artform – spotted a mile away thanks to a cosign by the great Holy Roar Records – and we have a shoo-in for 2019 album of the year lists and far beyond if they can keep up the momentum. In the Hands of an Angry God is massive, monstrous, and monumental.