Thy Black Blood – The Rise of the Misanthrope (War Productions / Void Wanderer Productions)
Review by Milos Sebalj
Just recently I’ve been reading the official biography of Moonspell. It gave me the opportunity to figure out just how important Lisbon’s municipality of Brandoa was for the growth and development of Portuguese underground (black) metal. That information is important here simply because Thy Black Blood emerged from the same area some eighteen years ago. Scarce biographical information on the project indicates the huge gap in its activity, ended with this exact album, their debut full length. Understandable, as the person(s) behind Thy Black Blood have been incredibly active with other bands and projects over the years. So, no question of dedication, but the mere lack of free time.
Musically speaking, I cannot say I’m not surprised a bit. While it is clear from some fragments of Thy Black Blood’s creativity where they originated from, they use a slightly different approach. Perhaps even a fresh one, though far from original in its essence. The mentioned Moonspell might not be the most prominent influence here, though parts of “I’ll Spit on Your Cross” do take you back to the early years by the Lusitanian legend. Decayed also should not be taken as a clear inspiration, even if there is a significant first wave touch on “The Rise of the Misanthrope”. Corpus Christii is again half of a reference, mostly through their brand of second wave worship. Contrasting the Portuguese connotation is the undoubted view of the Scandinavian masters and their take on tremolo lead guitars. Put it all together and you will be close to what Thy Black Blood intended on their debut album.
Now, the experience gathered through the years is very much audible on the record. The songs are thought out and skillfully arranged, so that they offer a decent flow to the entirety. They are packed with enough aggression, not forgetting a minimal but omnipresent atmospheric touch. Still, I cannot escape a certain feeling that the tracks are underdeveloped to some degree. The ideas were definitely present, and good ones, but the realization lacks a further touch to make the songs more distinguishable. The end result remains somewhat flattened, even if “The Rise of the Misanthrope” should be a delicacy for any connoisseur of genre. Simply, I think it could have been even better, considering the obvious skill of the participants. Luckily enough, the record doesn’t span much further than thirty minutes, so the entirety remains explosive enough to make these shortcomings less discernible.
A band to follow, for sure. Even if it is a big question whether there will be anything to follow. Who knows what the future might bring for Thy Black Blood and will the inconsistent activity of the project keep it away from the minds of the fans. This album makes you pay attention, but I don’t think it will ‘buy’ enough patience for another fourteen years of slumber.