Slagmaur convey a theatrical, almost light-hearted, evilness that feels, sometimes, like a parodic jab at bands who take kvlt-evilness a bit too seriously. Thill Smitts Terror is the third full-length by these Norwegian oddballs. Quirks and peculiarities enter at a rapid pace and leave as swiftly as they arrive: disembodied, out-of-tune, and barely audible clippings of schizophrenic vocals strike then disappear; choral eeriness grows and fades; samples of screams, grunts, growls and cries expand and takeover the mix; and a general splatter gun approach of uneasy discord defines Thill Smitts Terror. It’s chaotic and difficult to grasp without being lightning fast and completely indiscernible. Instead, it manages to create a sense of mid-paced discomfort by not really following the guidelines set out in the How to Make Extreme Metal handbook. One does get a feeling, however, that Slagmaur have created this album from the outside in, focusing on eccentricities before addressing foundation and structure. When you exist on a higher plain of existence, who needs structure and stability!

Thill Smitts Terror opens with a Sergei Prokofiev “Dance of the Knights” style classical instrumental that, in relation to the rest of the album, fits like a foot in a glove.  “Drummer of Tedworth” is the first proper track, a mid-paced cyber industrial track that rumbles and churns with a mechanical haziness.  Slices of corrugated riff patterns and piston-like drumming, letting off steam and rusty background fuzz, make up most of the song: a consistent force. The vocals, though, are a lot more malleable and unrestricted. Odious gargles, modulated spoken word interludes (reminiscent of Abe from Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssee), chants of a Gregorian nature, and more common mid-ranged growls and snarls fluctuate and emerge without preface. Their unpredictable nature is both an exciting feature and an annoyance.

A peculiar tone to the album and to the mix carries through from beginning to end. The wash of guitars has an icy Burzum sharpness that gives the music a malicious and recognizable edge. Obfuscating this icy sheen is a bombardment of leaden industrial sounds. The heavy yet measured drums trudge and slam consistently; this isn’t flashy or technical but it’s effective in a self-assured, foot-stomping sort of way. A fuzzed crackling, like that of a TV, trails much of the album like a headache. It rids the album of clarity, making it a claustrophobic affair that might make you reach for the power-off button. However, it somewhat intensifies the strange vibe that carries through the album.

To return to the Burzum and the second-wave black-metal sound, a lot of the riff patterns here borrow their frosty sharpness. “Werewolf” follows this mold, but the guitars don’t take center stage. Instead, the stomping drumming surges and intensifies as the song progresses, annihilating the pretty black-metal pattern by consuming the mix with its hollow thump. The industrial led discord intensifies as the song progresses; its descent into an amorphous mass works here, but not necessarily throughout a whole album.

“Bestemor Sang Djevelord” follows a similar theme, although faint glimmers of a piano attempt to break into the madhouse and change things up. However once inside there’s not much room for them to really make a striking difference. The opening riffs fall flat and drag the song into forgettable territories. The bass-heavy bellow of the mix also creates an off-putting atmosphere. Unease is created following the annihilation of my innocent ear-drums due to an uncomfortable wash of sharp background noise rather than unease created through creepy and clever song-writing.

The peculiar flourishes of Thill Smitts Terror are decorative and the core structure of the album isn’t strong enough allow these decorations to really shine. Songs largely follow a similar format: guitars float at a high altitude, searching for prey, as drums and bass dwell at a subterranean level, throbbing and clouding the mix. It’s good stuff for two or three tracks, but there’s just not enough variety. When the guitars do take on a chunkier mid-ranged tone, as in the fifth song “Hekeskritt”, things do change for the better, but this section was brief and soon forgotten. Slagmaur share a similar sound to Terra Tenebrosa, but the difference between the two is in the composition of albums. Terra Tenebrosa utilise lulls, silences, and spaciousness a lot more tactfully. Slagmaur lack this balance. There’s potential here, but too much falls short.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Osmose Productions
Websites:  bandcamp/thill-smitts-terror | facebook/slagmaurofficial
Releases Worldwide: March 30th, 2017

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  • RagE

    I am on the fence about this one. I want to love it, but so far i am not convinced. Will need to give the record a few attentive spins before deciding. Von Rov Shelter was pretty much perfect in my ears.

  • GardensTale

    Great album cover though!

  • Goldicot

    Well, the band photo is good.

  • rumour_control

    When half your band name is ‘slag’…well…

    • RagE

      norwegian for “Hit” or “punch”
      It is a play on the word Slagbjørn(literally punchbear, or hit bear)
      which is an agressive bear that kills people or farm animals. Slagmaur is the same, but with Ants.(maur=ant) Its a pretty nonsensical name.

      • rumour_control

        Indeed. I, of course, was merely being snarky, and half our beloved bands have odd names, so my comment isn’t really anything more than a fool’s jest. I love the idea of a bear attacking ants, however. Would get them to earn their forest keep. ;-)

        • drug_genosh

          wouldn’t it be attacking ants?

          • rumour_control

            Ahhh…this gets even more etmologically (antomologically attacking ants?) interesting. Opens up the whole duality of the ant kingdom nature.

          • rumour_control

            And, yes, goes without slaying, but those bears have their work cut out for them up against those ants.

          • sir_c

            yes that would be called “anty globalisation”

          • rumour_control

            Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle (my sister and her dating anty choices). You’ve trumped the case on that one.

      • [not a Dr]

        We have those punch/hit ants in the Amazonian Jungle.

        • rumour_control

          Here, too. But, usually, Uncle Bob just gets a restraining order.

  • Reese Burns

    I didn’t know there was another Slagmur record coming out. I was all excited when I saw it here. Then I saw that score…

    • Zach Ward

      I mean 2.5 is close to being mixed. Some could feel the same as the score, while others could hate it and others could love it. Imma give dis a shot anyway, having heard nothing from them prior.

      • Reese Burns

        I’d recommend starting with Von Rov Shelter and Svin, both excellent releases

        • Zach Ward

          Can Do!!

    • What does the score matter? It’s only an individual subjective opinion. The description is much more important than the number. I advice you to listen and make up your own mind.

      I see that you’re familiar with the band. The two biggest differences from earlier is that there is less news/shock value, and less orchestral elements interwoven. The DR might be a bit lower as well, but not to a significant degree. I feel convinced you will come to enjoy Thill Smitts Terror.

  • Westpaceagle

    These are words that accurately approximate my personal assessment of this album. But these words are better than mine. Well done!

  • junkyhead

    The guitar tone kinda reminds of the one that Marduk used in World Funeral, which is awesome.

    • You wot m8?

      Agreed.

  • Thatguy

    I rather like what I hear so far. i will listen to to all later.

  • Ouch, that tone is horribly painful. I can’t imagine myself listening to the whole record. I have ringing in my ears after just one track…

  • They do love a gimmick, judging by the costumes. I saw them live earlier this year and was pretty underwhelmed, considering all the advance hype for the new record.

  • [not a Dr]

    I’m liking this more than I thought I would.

    However, I keep wanting to move my computer’s antennae until I get a clearer reception.

  • Javier Chuki Wakcha

    Catchy album cover, bad album.