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Thou / Emma Ruth Rundle - The Helm Of Sorrow [Collaboration] review

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Band: Thou / Emma Ruth Rundle
Album: The Helm Of Sorrow [Collaboration]
Release date: January 2021

01. Orphan Limbs
02. Crone Dance
03. Recurrence
04. Hollywood [The Cranberries cover]

An addendum to a pretty ambitious collab, one that finally features a cover of a Cranberries song that isn't "Zombie".

You might remember May Our Chambers Be Full, the collaborative album between Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle. In case you don't, you should drop by there first, not only because it's a pretty good album, but because The Helm Of Sorrow acts as a sort of "B-sides" companion to it, so listening to one without the other is quite inappropriate. A lot of what I could say about The Helm Of Sorrow, I've already said in my review of May Our Chambers Be Full, about how the collaboration started from a Roadburn set that both artists played, about how Thou had been building up to such an expansion of their DNA with a bunch of acoustic/alternative/drone EPs, and how this ends up making more sense than initially assumed.

The two albums have a symbiotic relationship with one another, being recorded in the same recording sessions and all, but one of them is the main and one of them is the extra. Technically, the 35 minutes of May Our Chambers Be Full and 20 minutes of The Helm Of Sorrow could've easily fit on a single album, being under the hour mark. But then again I am the same person who usually is bothered by albums being too long (unless they're like massive, in which case I take the opposite route), so them both being both bite-sized might have been done to appeal to people like me. And since The Helm Of Sorrow is included on some die-hard editions of May Our Chambers Be Full, it's not like folks who buy physical copies have much to suffer from the material being divided. Maybe 55 minutes of this stuff back to back would be a bit too much to be continuously sustained, and taking it in smaller packages masks that.

But listening to The Helm Of Sorrow, none of the material here really feels like "B material", and each of the sounds could've easily fit on the main album. Hell, I like "Recurrence" more than half the tracks on May Our Chambers Be Full. Which is ironic, since that the Thou-est track here, and I mostly liked the ERR-esque bits on the main. As a whole, The Helm Of Sorrow feels a bit more leaning to the Thou side. Other than the "Hollywood" track, most of them have Emma Ruth Rundle taking a bit more of a secondary role in terms of vocals (if my sense is correct and that is Thou's KC Stafford doing vocals on "Orphan Limb" instead of Emma, otherwise, I take everything back), with the most prominent role being in "Crone Dance". As I said, excluding the "Hollywood" track, a pretty underrated Cranberries song, in which Emma takes the lead, channeling her inner Dolores O'Riordan without really compromising her own musical identity.

Overall, I feel like if the songs weren't as good as they are, I'd think less about why the material was divided between the releases as it was, and more about the music itself. But hey, who can complain about more good music?

Written on 14.01.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 59 users
15.01.2021 - 01:25
That "Hollywood" cover is sick. Love it.
15.01.2021 - 04:27

19.01.2021 - 11:42
Rating: 8
Seems like I was wrong about "Orphan Limb":

It's our longtime collaborator Emily McWilliams with those lead vocals on "Orphan Limbs." (And Louie Michot on the fiddle!)
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

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