Thantifaxath - Hive Mind Narcosis
Dark Descent Records
Avant-Garde Black Metal
7 songs (46:45)
Release year: 2023
Official Label Bandcamp
Reviewed by Goat

A mysterious Canadian group with one of those deliberately difficult names that started out black metal and quickly became something else entirely, Thantifaxath are a difficult band for difficult people. Hive Mind Narcosis is but their second full-length, and upon pushing play and hearing the deranged dance of opener Solar Witch, you will know whether this is entirely up your street or not. It's a discordant trip, intense without being overwhelming, a mix of jazzy chords for lead guitar and snarling howls for vocals, backed by some truly stellar bass and drumming (always the unsung heroes of these bands, are the rhythm section). Definitely King Crimson-esque, but if Fripp and co were Norwegian and insane on top of being austere post-jazz prog gods.

That afterwards the band immediately switch to overwhelming you on Surgical Utopian Love with a blur of blastbeats and atmospheric fuzz is just one of the many ways that Hive Mind Narcosis wrongfoots the listener throughout. It's a very compelling ten minute track that meanders through hateful raging and wandering nightmarish strolls, simultaneously bringing Axis of Perdition and John Carpenter's synth soundscapes to mind, if you can think about such things while that descending melody around the eight-minute mark repeats to the point of madness. And the way that The Lost Kingdom of Wolves follows this up, building on a trilling melody and drilling it deep in an almost symphonic way, is little short of genius.

The obvious comparisons are to the likes of Deathspell Omega, yet Thantifaxath are far more self-consciously avant-garde in stylings and results, the likes of Burning Kingdom of Now pushes the envelope even further with some impressively off-kilter jazzy drumming behind the ominous upfront tones - like a more compelling Imperial Triumphant that stuck a little closer to black metal's sense of dynamics and a better grasp of hooks, even. Yes, hooks; the songs here stick in your head not just from the occult, otherworldly atmosphere, but a real compositional quality at play that makes the music accessible rather than headache-inducing. Sub Lillith Tunnels especially is a horror movie soundtrack, all shrieking synths and wordless choirs atop a distorted voiceover (again, Axis of Perdition) that works simply because it works as an unnerving piece of music, and a fine interlude before the closing Mind of the Sun turns more muscular and aggressive in its hatred of you.

The entire album has a threatening, horror movie vibe; the killer being behind the door just ahead of you but never quite revealing himself, the witches living in your house without your knowledge, the spirit is just out of the corner of your eye. Hungry Ghosts here is like communicating directly with a vengeful entity from beyond, the trippy jazzy backing and the snarled vocals emanating, yet if you really listen to the guitar riffs and the strange, almost played-backward feel of them, there's something transcendental going on. Comparisons have been made by better people than your correspondent between this band and Mahavishnu Orchestra, and it does seem to be possible to draw a line between the likes of The Dance of Maya and what is going on here. Genuinely weird and genuinely interesting; necronauts with an ear for this kind of thing will be overjoyed.

Killing Songs :
Solar Witch, Burning Kingdom of Now, Hungry Ghosts, Mind of the Sun
Goat quoted 88 / 100
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