Mentally picture those old, grainy, black and white horror films, even as far back as "Nosferatu". The motion is jerky, the actors move with dramatic flair, wild-eyed expressions of madness etched across faces, lightning flashing across the sky and a rainstorm pummeling an old house is seen, as dark figures lurk in the background. Got it? Now consider what a modern day soundtrack to one of these films might sound like. Considering how macabre some of those ancient films seem when viewed today, it might sound like the (appropriately) lo-fi drone and dread of THRALLDOM's "A Shaman Steering the Vessel of Vastness", the experimental rumble and whirr of two men: Killusion (Ryan Lipynsky, also of UNEARTHLY TRANCE) and Jaldagar.
While Killusion is listed as contributing vocals, guitar, and prose, and Jaldagar with drums and percussion, both are credited with "sound manipulations, experimentation, and noise." Right, this ain't MARDUK. The mental picture painted should be one of a U.S. black metal act that resides in a neighborhood not far from Malefic's (XASTHUR). The comparison is useful only for the purpose of pointing one in the right direction though. The style of THRALLDOM, while defined to a significant extent by doom-laden ambience and chilling atmospheres, is often driven by a kind of hypnotic roar that is fairly distinct.
Though cohesive, the album's moods do vary. Two of the songs on this 34-minute release, "Only the Dead Speak the Truth" and the eight-minute "Quantum Frost", are esoteric in a general sense, but are propelled by heavy, bone-dry riffs, the former track in particular noteworthy for its repeating riff churn that is immediately memorable. "The Wolf Will Never Die" and "The Mentu Dynasty" are of the ugly and noisy, nails-on-chalkboard, variety. Agonizing screams and petrifying moans replace the standard harsh vocals (the fascinating lyrics are included, by the way). Things do quiet down a bit, in a nervous and somber kind of way, on "Ultra-Extinction", though the feelings of distress never go away.
Give it some time and "A Shaman Steering the Vessel of Vastness" will open up passages through the psyche that you never realized existed. THRALLDOM has been honing its craft since 1997 and it shows on this album. This one is in fact a very interesting and appealingly disturbing release.