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Review: Thantifaxath - Hive Mind Narcosis
Hive Mind Narcosis

Label: Dark Descent Records
Year released: 2023
Duration: 46:47
Tracks: 7
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: August 22, 2023
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.5/5 (70%) (6 Votes)

Thantifaxath stirred some waves in the underground with their debut, the intricate and oppressive Sacred White Noise, nearly a decade ago, which might be long enough to call it something of a classic at this point. I can't say I loved it as much as a lot of people do, but I definitely heard a band with the drive to do something different and the capability to pull it off, so I was pretty happy when I heard about their long-awaited sophomore album coming out. Plenty have called it a triumphant return for the band that builds off their debut to make something even more iconoclastic and complex, but while I'd agree with the latter assessment, I find it hard to agree with the former.

Unsurprisingly, Hive Mind Narcosis doubles down on the technicality of its predecessor, with each track filled with winding, dissonant guitar work that leads the tense, spiraling compositions that often curl in on themselves and refuse to resolve tension as they bleed into one another. Unfortunately, I'd say they made the songwriting a little too dense and fussy, robbing the songs of momentum and leading them to meander where they should be menacing. They also had to trade in some of their ferocity to achieve this, but while they certainly got the increase in uneasy tension they wanted, they ended up doing away with the kind of resolution the songs needed to really grab you. Building uneasy tension with dissonance and off-kilter songwriting is all well and good, and wanting to constantly build that tension without fully resolving it is a perfectly valid approach, but you still need something to build to some kind of climax so that all the tension has some payoff, otherwise you get diminishing returns with the attempts at sustaining a discomforting atmosphere and wind up with an emotional flatline, which is what I think happened here for the most part.

I won't say they entirely forgot this, however, as the closer "Mind of the Sun" ends up revisiting some of the aggression from the debut and ends the album on a high note, and it's clear that they were building up to this for the entire album. However, I'd say the song most emblematic of the album is the massive "Surgical Utopian Love," which has flashes of their old magic near the beginning that feels like a payoff to the dull opener "Solar Witch," but then they slow down and start building up tension in the middle without really going anywhere with it before the song ends, and the only other noteworthy part of the album is the middle section of "The Lost Wisdom of Wolves," whose guitar work tries to be sparse to really build on mood and fails to do so on account of sounding really close to the middle part of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (based on the lyrics, this is probably intentional and meant to take a comforting melody and warp it into the opposite, but boy did they fail to do that)

I dunno, I tried hard to get into this the way many others have, and the band clearly worked hard on this release to create the most unwelcoming and uncomfortable album possible, but to my ears, they overshot their goal and ended up making something that ends up being unengaging and unmemorable. A noble misfire.

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Review: Sacred White Noise (reviewed by Mjölnir)
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