Thorns - Thorns (2001)Release ID: 2789

Thorns - Thorns (2001) Cover
Daniel Daniel / May 06, 2022 / Comments 1 / 1

My experience with unique Norwegian industrial black metal project Thorns began in the first half of the 1990’s through their “Grymyrk” & “Trøndertun” demo tapes (1991 & 1992 respectively). I picked them both up through the tape trading scene during the whirlwind of activity that was caused by the early Second Wave of Black Metal & while they each offered me a reasonable level of interest (particularly the latter), neither could be said to have left me completely convinced so I wouldn’t say that I was committed to following the band’s every move at that point. Thorns would pop up a couple more times during that decade when they appeared on a couple of high quality Mayhem & Darkthrone tribute albums (both of which were very solid releases in their own right) however my defection to the electronic scene a short time later saw our paths steering well clear of each other for just over decade after that. My 2009 return to metal would mark a quick reconciliation with Thorns though, first with this marvelous self-titled debut album & then through the 1999 split album with Emperor (which unfortunately didn’t manage to hold my attention much to tell you the truth). But despite being the only Thorns release to command a position in my black metal collection long-term, their self-titled album impressed me enough to not only become a regular in my car stereo at very high volumes both then & now but also to warrant a position in my Hall of Metal Glory for all eternity.

“Thorns” Is a very interesting & ambitious work but it never sounds unusual or avant-garde due to the fact that it so clearly harnesses Norwegian Second Wave black metal as it’s core sound & then builds around it. The industrial elements are less prominent but are significant nonetheless with the influences that are drawn from outside of the black metal spectrum being the key to the appeal of a record like “Thorns”. In truth it ventures further afield than just the Godflesh brand of industrial metal too. Take “Underneath the Universe 1” for example which explores a fully realized & remarkably professional dark ambient sound with emphatically successful results & subsequently represents my album highlight. The way that track’s themes are then rearranged to create the stunning gothic dirge piece that is “Underneath the Universe 2´is quite remarkable (as is the fact that I once again find the two least popular tracks on the album to be it’s pinnacle & centrepiece. What can I say? I’m my own man.) The straight-up black metal tracks are all of a very high quality though & the album’s real strength is in it’s consistency as every track is chock full of class & quality.

The first thing you’ll notice about “Thorns” is the production job which can initially be confronting. The guitars of former Mayhem member Snorre W. Ruch sound quite trebly & tinny while Mayhem/Arcturus drummer Hellhammer’s kit is very clicky & lacks genuine weight. This does buy into the industrial metal aesthetic to an extent though as it gives the album more of a mechanical feel. I found that it definitely took me a listen or two to become fully comfortable with it but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t appreciate the ability of the clicky kick-drum sound to highlight Hellhammer’s impressive footwork. The vocals of Bjørn Dencker (Dødheimsgard/ Old Man's Child/ Zyklon-B) & Satyricon’s Satyr are a genuine highlight as they both possess that classic Norwegian menace & compliment each other nicely too. There’s a bit of thrashiness about some of the riffs but they never veer far from the black metal model with the classy use of dissonance being a real feature.

Overall I’d suggest that “Thorns” may be the finest example of an industrial black metal sound that I’ve experienced to tell you the truth. Black metal fans that aren’t all that fond of industrial metal shouldn’t fret though. There’s plenty of classic black metal included here & I’d be very surprised if you were turned off by the experimentation with alternative sounds.

For fans of Dødheimsgard, Aborym & Blut aus Nord.

Shezma Shezma / September 25, 2023 / Comments 0 / 0

Thorns.. where do I start? Never heard of these guys before at all. Not quite sure since after hearing about this, it is quite revered everywhere. I don't listen to industrial metal often, haven't found much before that have interested me. There are industrial moments, of some mechanical and even digital sounding percussions and background rhythms that come off very interesting. There is some very innovating material here and I can see learning this style, however the entire time I'm thinking if I was a musician I would do this and try to make it better. The interesting bits seemed more in the middle of the album where I actually took notice, heavily industrial influenced and I enjoyed that quite a bit. I liked the what I consider almost symphonic parts of Underneath The Universe and the various instrumental bits like the end of Shifting Channels however they're limited here and would love to hear a full album of that style. Most of the time unfortunately I just tuned out really longing for more from this. 

This album has so much in it that I would love to show off to other people looking for a new and challenging listen, and I could understand this can be a life changing experience for someone. Especially for 2001, this has to have been some musicians influential first starts into what we have today. Again, I'm not a fan of this but I have to show respect and acknowledge that there is something here for others. 

Sonny Sonny / May 07, 2022 / Comments 0 / 0

Thorns were formed in 1989 as Stigma Diabolicum, changing their name to Thorns in 1990 and are the brainchild of Snorre W. Ruch who, as any black metal historian knows, was the man sentenced to eight years in prison in 1994 for being an accomplice in the murder of Euronymous by Burzum's Varg Vikernes (although Vikernes has since said Ruch was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time). This enforced hiatus meant that despite releasing a couple of well-received demos in '91/'92 Thorns didn't release their debut and sole (up to time of writing) album until 2001. According to well-known metal historian Fenriz, Ruch actually invented the black metal riffing technique and was the guy who taught it to Euronymous, so certainly his black metal credentials are impeccable. Apart from Ruch, the album features Mayhem's Hellhammer on drums and vocal duties were shared between Dødheimsgard's Aldrahn and Satyricon's Satyr. The album musically is an unholy alliance between quite brilliant early second-wave black metal menace and machine-like industrial influences. Now I have never tried to hide my love of nineties black metal, but I find industrial metal to be hit and miss, too often sounding contrived and even corny on occasion. Luckily Thorns seem as adept with their industrial rhythms and effects as they do with their black metal blasting and manage to marry the two with unrivalled skill and as a result produce one of the all-time great industrial black metal albums and my personal favourite in the style.

Thorns' agenda is set from the off with opening track Existence kicking off like a straight-up BM track, very much like Emperor's earlier stuff actually, but after about thirty seconds or so the track stops abruptly and someone exclaims "Jesus... what a mindjob!" The track then kicks back in, but significantly changed with a weird, theremin-like effect added and a much more machine-like aesthetic, particular in the percussive department, as if they are saying "we CAN do that, but instead we're gonna do this". They also like to intersperse their black industrial core with some dissonance to further prevent the listener from getting too comfortable and to keep them on their toes. One such track is the second, World Playground Deceit, which is initially quite dissonant, but then right in the middlle of the track they plant a thrash metal riff and you just start to get your head nodding when the angular and dissonant nature of the track suddenly returns and you are left hanging (but in a good way!) Shifting Channels is a track where the band seem to go all-in on the industrial side and is extremely machine-like in both percussion and riffing with a slower tempo and disturbing, almost crooning vocal that sounds like a serial killer talking to himself. The second half od the album opens with a brace of connected tracks, Underneath the Universe parts 1&2 which bring something quite different. Part 1 is mostly a dark ambient piece, that features some excellent martial drumming earlier on before giving way to a fairly reflective cosmic ambience that provides a stillness at the heart of the album in contrast to the industrialised cacophony going on elsewhere. Part 2 sees the return of the martial drumming which is joined by an equally military-sounding riff as the vocals intone once more the inner workings of a disturbed mind.

All in all this is an exceedingly adept realisation of the industrialised black metal aesthetic, with neither component dominating the other, both working together in a synergy that lifts the music to a level few similar practitioners have ever come close to. I think it would probably appeal to fans of black metal more than it would your average Fear Factory or Ministry fan, but that is as much down to BM being a hard sell outside of it's adherents than any commentary on the quality shown here. If you are in the market for industrial black metal then you really have got to start with Thorns as most others are merely pale imitations.

UnhinderedbyTalent UnhinderedbyTalent / February 20, 2020 / Comments 0 / 0

With all things being equal the grumpy old man in me was instantly put off by the band logo on the cover of this record.  "This looks all sleek and modern, with its oddly shaped T and H", he said.  "This be music for young people", he said.  What this actually turned out to be once Pensioner Vincent had climbed back in his rocking chair was an absolute fucking blast.

This is all about the fucking riffs man.  Chopping and scathing attacks on the auditory inlets of the listener they act as an abrasive and caustic excursion into industrial-tinged, atmospheric and also blasting BM.  With Satyr of Satyricon performing the majority of vocals the album does sound a tad like a more adventurous version of the infamous bm stalwarts.  Musically though it is somewhere between the levels of intensity generated by a Tsjuder record and the levels of creepiness experienced in most horror movies.  The guitars themselves have an almost crispness to them (again reminiscent of Now, Diabolical era Satyricon) as they battle for supremacy with the haunting atmospheres and perilous melodies of the overall of offering.  With Hellhammer guesting on the drums there's certainly no shortage of power or guile in that department.

It would be easy on a record of so many opposing parts for the album to lack flow or cohesion but it does have both.  In this regard it is a triumph of both design and content.  Without many twists or turns the album delivers a varied listening experience that stays with you for a while after.  Its consistency and confidence are both strong enough regardless of what pace, tempo or general style the band are performing at even the final track with it's spoken word verses seems to act as a fitting summary to all that has passed before it.

Arguably, with the names associated with it, Thorns single full-length offering could only ever had been a success.  But the delivery of it serves to fully cement this expectation and leaves me wishing still for a second offering nearly twenty years later.


Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 8 | Reviews: 4


Release Clan Rating

Ratings: 2 | Reviews: 1


Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 6


Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 3

The North
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Industrial Metal (conventional)

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Thorns chronology

Thorns (2001)