Friday 28 October 2022


When reviewing Thammuz's debut album "Into The Great Unknown" Desert Psychlist described them as "a band who can take you by the hand and dance you down long dusty desert highways, who can evoke nightmares with their dank doomic dirges, take you on psychedelic journeys into the cosmos and rip your face off with their aggressive punk-like ferocity". Well two years have passed since that album was released so have Thammuz ditched that diversity and tried to make their lives easier by just settling into one groove and sticking with it or have, they continued down the same paths of diversity that made "Into The Great Unknown" one of the standout releases of 2020? Thankfully new album "Sons Of The Occult" (Argonauta Records) proves the latter to be the answer.

Thammuz's second album bursts into life with an absolute barn burner in the shape of instrumental "Electric Sheep", though to call it an instrumental is not strictly accurate as it does contain a heavily filtered robotic voice quoting the title of Phillip K. Dick's celebrated novel that inspired the movie "Blade Runner". The track begins with a delicious circular guitar motif that is then joined by the bass, drums and second guitar in a groove that recalls the heydays of Kyuss and Fu Manchu, a raucous, grainy and strident groove that would make the perfect soundtrack for an overhead shot of cars racing through deserts in some futuristic road movie. Leaving us no time to catch our breaths Thammuz then slam straight into the album's title track "Sons of the Occult" a thrumming blend of doom tinted riffage interspersed with curly little QOTSA flavoured guitar licks and motifs overlayed with a superbly pitched throaty vocal that at one point intones the immortal lines "We all have the power in our hands to kill, some of you want to but just a few will". Next up is "Guayota" a semi-acoustic instrumental that slowly builds layer upon layer and along the way incorporates a mixture of Floydian and Elder type guitar textures and colours in its sonic makeup This is then followed by "Had A Blast" a hypnotic tome decorated in a mix of falsetto and husky vocal tones, the song subtly increasing in intensity and volume but never quite exploding. "Self-taught Man" is the type of song Alice Cooper might have pitched to his record company back in his early days only to be told not to risk his career, it is a song that shares many of the musical characteristics Alice toyed with back in those early days. Its lyrical themes of horror and perversity are almost vaudevillian in content and are backed by a mixture of musical backdrops that range from Victorian music hall theatrics to Sunset Strip hard rock sleaziness, and who could resist a line like "i want to play with your remains" or the offer to "make love to you when you were dead". Next is "Dumuzid's Descent" a brief but interesting instrumental with strong lysergic overtones which then leads us to "Death Song's" a crunching riff monster with an old school hard/desert rock vibe that routinely shifts between a strident gallop and a satisfying chug. "People From the Sky" follows next and is a nicely paced desert rock workout perfect for driving along to while "Peyote", an instrumental, blends heavy psych haziness with desert rock swagger without drifting too far into either territory. Finally, we arrive at "Insomnia" a song that shifts with keen regularity between laid back and languid and raucous and gnarly boasting along the way low liquid bass motifs, crunching riffs, searing solos and thunderous solid percussion all topped off with a superb vocal that lyrically sways between weary introspection and questioning anger.

Heavy music is not a stranger to diversity, but it is rare to come across a band like Thammuz who sound so different from one song to another yet still manage to maintain a signature sound that is so wholly their own. Many may have thought that the levels of diversity found on the band's debut "Into The Great Unknown" was the result of a band trying to find their own feet and develop their own sound by experimenting with different genres before settling on a direction that suited them best, but then along comes "Sons Of The Occult" and dispels that theory by following much the same path as its predecessor. It seems very much that being all things to all men/women, and anyone falling in-between, is exactly the target this Dutch foursome are aiming at, and on the strength of this, their second album, it seems as though they are hitting their targets.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

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