Album Review: Aseethe — ‘Throes’

Primitive Man w/ Aseethe (album release show), Bloody Void, Blood Spell, Idolist

Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines — Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Out May 17, Throes, the new album from Iowa City’s metal mavens Aseethe (their second since signing to Thrill Jockey), is overflowing with emotion. Promotional materials note that guitarist/vocalist Brian Barr (the main composer and arranger on the album) and bassist/vocalist Noah Koester (serving as primary lyricist) both point to current political and environmental issues as inspiration, with anger and exhaustion the main throughlines.

And this album is exhausting. The opening title track is a nine-and-a-half-minute relentless epic. Aseethe pulls no punches, demanding full investment and offering no quarter. It could be an album all its own. It’s beautiful.

Track two, “To Victory,” offers a slight respite at the outset, but inexorably draws you into the doomiest track on the recording. While the anger present on some of the other tracks lends almost a punk feel to the guitar and vocals at times, “To Victory” is the album’s centerpiece and tonal heart.

Aseethe pull off a neat trick on tracks three and four, each almost short enough for commercial radio, but both stretching their time with that beautiful doom dilation. You get so lost in the arrangements on “Suffocating Burden” that the instrumental never seems to stop, with 19 seconds of near silence at the end, that almost carries more rhetorical weight than the rest of the album combined.

Eric Diercks is on fire on “No Realm,” a rage-filled thrasher on which his drums are almost schizophrenic, alternating between inimical restraint and full-throttle in a back-and-forth frenzy that makes the nearly five minute song feel almost twice as long.

Throes is a master class in using space. As a reaction to a world in which many people don’t always have a voice, Aseethe uses what power they have, both culturally and sonically, to gather up space and hold it open. Their anger is a gift, and it feels like a weapon we can wield. This [album] kills fascists.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 264.

Ed. note: The print version of this article incorrectly named the band’s bassist/vocalist as Nicholas Koester. His name has been corrected here to Noah. Drummer Eric’s surname has been corrected from Dierks to Diercks.

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