Thou - May Our Chambers Be Full (2020)Release ID: 24170
The prolific release schedule of Thou is mesmerising. Not that I have tried to keep up mind, but they seem to spit out EPs and splits for fun. Odd then that I have never sat through an entire release before this one. With Emma Ruth Rundle, I have the advantage of being familiar with her 2018 album On Dark Horses which is from memory a very decent indie/alternative release – not that it gets much in the way of being revisited.
The combination of these two musical forces presents something of an untested concept to me, therefore. Although I am more familiar with Emma’s work I would hardly call myself a fan and despite having heard little of Thou I can sort of predict how they are going to sound. Key in this album assessment though is not just how the individual artist contributions rate but more how they first work together. They are opposites in terms of vocal style for a start. Emma’s tuneful yet earthy vocals possessing an ethereal allure to them, with Bryan Funck’s style being the more traditional deathly rasp that we would associate with sludge. There are times here where one of the vocalists are allowed to perform in isolation to great effect and other occasions were things work just as well when the two are layered one atop of the other. In either scenario I prefer Emma though. She just has more presence regardless of the backdrop she sings against.
No combination of heavy, distorted riffs can contain her voice from bleeding through to become the most memorable part of nearly every track. However, there is not any element of conflict between the instrumentation and the vocals, both work in complete tandem throughout. That is not to say that I always want them too though. There are times when I do find myself just wanting a little respite to be able to focus on one half of the contributions (clearly Emma) as although the album as a whole is perfectly acceptable a listen there is very little sense of completion to many of the ideas explored here. Again, this feels more like one part not giving the other enough room to breathe as opposed to any noticeable conflict.
Only the opening and closing tracks seem to draw breath long enough for the fruits of their exploits to be realised. As a one-off project, this release was never going to see the complete blending of Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou into an exceptional outfit. That withstanding, time could have been taken here to fuse the emotions of the component parts better to make things more final. As a result I listen to May Our Chambers Be Full with a virtual “draft” watermark across most tracks.