Emma Ruth Rundle and Louisiana sonic terrorists, Thou, join forces for their debut collaboration album, May Our Chambers Be Full – the latest in Sacred Bones‘ collaboration series which has seen the likes of The Body, Uniform, Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky showcase their unique talents.
Both prolific through their own projects as solo artist and band, respectively, on paper, the channelling of Rundle‘s burgeoning grunge folk and Thou‘s morose doom-laden sludge metal is a union for any progressive metal follower to treasure.
The fact that this project actually delivers with a distinctive searing intensity just adds more fire to the flames.
Opening number, Killing Floor, is a whirring methodical jam, urgently kicking through the mire of Rundle‘s fractured folk and sludgey chords as Thou‘s Bryan Funck‘s bursts of goulish rage bubble beneath the mix.
Monolith follows a similar path, with grunge and sludge fighting it out for last rites only for a flashing chorus to open up the song like rich blue skies after a savage thunder storm.
Thou take the reins on Out of Existence, with Andy Gibbs‘ downturned riffs that crack and bludgeon, eventually slowing the pace to an atmospheric swirl for Rundle to add the finishing touches with her fragile melodies.
Single, Ancestral Recall, is an absolute sledge hammer of song. Thou‘s black metal leanings push hard against Rundle’s ghost-train-riding melodies. The sheer power of the track pushes the listener to extreme limits.
The pace doesn’t stop with Magickal Cost, either. A beautiful collision of black metal flange and Rundle‘s arching melodies which form as the centrepiece to this collaboration.
Into Being takes the twisted metal of Magickal Cost rewinding the chaos in slow motion. The timing signatures have Rundle‘s fingerprints all over them, bathing in the soiled grunge aesthetic she has mastered over the last decade.
Then there’s The Valley. The final call with Rundle stamping her authority as the true hero of this collaboration. Rundle has always closed albums with an unprecedented tenderness and The Valley is yet another chapter to the story. It’s a haunting outhouse folk number rising from the flames with a gentle rattling of strings and Rundle‘s sharpened harmonies and hushed tones, guiding her audience towards the exit doors.
While Rundle‘s voice floats graciously across the instrumentation Thou provide, Funck‘s visceral screams slice straight through it like a glistening blade. Some may be put off by the extreme contrasts of vocal styles that weave and collide throughout May Our Chambers Be Full, but in truth these facets adds a new vital ferocity not previously heard.
This is what makes May Our Chambers Be Full so captivating. The results are the perfect marriage between unbridled elegance and unhinged chaos. Out of the four collaboration albums Sacred Bones have presented to us, this one is by far the most accomplished.
May Our Chambers Be Full is out now via Sacred Bones (Emma Ruth Rundle appears courtesy of Sargent House).