Eclipse Nox Coagula
posted on 11/2012 By:
One of the fun things about being a metal reviewer is that I get to say, with something not unlike a straight face, things like “Chilean death trio.” Except around these parts, that phrase is not one easily spun into casual conversation. “How was your weekend, JW?” someone might ask, as if anyone cared at all about my free time. And I would respond, “It was great. I spent a large part of it rocking out to a Chilean death trio. Good stuff.” And that poor interest-feigning soul would have little recourse but to nod, offer up some non-committal aside (a “huh” or an “I see”), and back away. Slowly. So as not to startle me with any sudden movements.
But here, on these pages, I can drop “Chilean death trio” three times in the first part of a review of Thornafire’s latest record, and no one cares at all. It’s the little things in life that keep me amused.
Prior to Eclipse Nox Coagula, I’d not crossed paths with Thornafire – their previous two full-lengths flew under my radar for whatever reason. So I’m coming across them now, and it’s better late than never, I must admit. As you’ve likely determined from my new favorite phrase, Thornafire is a three-piece band from Chile, and what they do is play death metal, and they play it well. Ibex Moon has carved out a little space for itself as a purveyor of straightforward death metal outfits, and Thornafire is a perfect fit. Between the band’s palpable energy, a clear and sharp production, occasional touches of an atmospheric malevolence, and a spate of catchy riffs, Eclipse doesn’t redesign the wheel, but it does make for a good listen, and that’s the important part.
Not to take anything away from the performances of the other two, but most of Eclipse’s biggest victories come from the hands of guitarist Victor Mac-Namara, whose riffs alternate between chunky and razor-sharp, each often equally memorable. Bassist Christian Argandona also handles vocals, and like the overall approach of the entirety of Eclipse, his growl is formidable, punchy, and largely by-the-numbers. Tasteful keyboard paddings poke their head in from time to time, never overpowering, adding just the right touch of eeriness to the proceedings, filling in nicely the spaces between Mac-Namara's riffs. Tracks like the pounding opener “Carnaval Caos” and the near-grind intensity of “Desintegracion” kick and gnash while the likes of “Malefactor Manifiesto” and “Inmortal Agonia” blast along with a more roiling, twisting destruction. By the time the haunting harpsichord-tinged instrumental closing of “Soluto” arrives, Thornafire has wasted virtually none of Eclipse’s thirty-seven-and-a-half minutes on anything but sharp, focused death.
The combination of primal swagger, evil atmosphere, and potent riff is almost always irresistible, and all in, there’s little else to say but this: In Eclipse Nox Coagula, Thornafire has released a damn-solid slab of straight-ahead South American death metal. Eclipse won’t change the grander playing field, really, but it’s almost guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any fan of the style, and really, what else could you ask for from a Chilean death trio?
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