On Thorns I Lay
On Thorns I Lay
November 21, 2023
ON THORNS I LAY are Greek titans. Where their peers were swayed more by Symphonic and Black Metal, this Athens band went for a taste of the Gothic on their 1994 debut. Which makes sense; after all, they are named after a Shakespearean sonnet. Thirty years and ten albums later, they are releasing their first album with Season of Mist. Their self-titled LP pushes death-doom to epic heights, casting a newborn Gothic glow over muscular riffs and cavernous vocals hearkening back to the halcyon days of early ‘90s Peaceville Death-Doom. The album has six songs.
“Fallen From Grace” is first. There is a long and eerie build-up of strings and chants. The power that drops from there is akin to a meteor hitting the lands and rattling everything like an earthquake. The vocals are filthy and the heavy doom sound is mighty. “Newborn Skies” comes out of the gates a little leaner, and a little more comfortable, and the main riff dances around at first, but that weighted Doom sound hits hard like a boxer without gloves. There is a good deal of supporting melodies, however. “Crestfallen” begins with acoustic guitars and Gothic themes. Suddenly, the album cover takes on more meaning. The vocals turn from deep grumblings to outright anger. It slows with piano for a few moments, allowing the delicate side of the album to shine, before the despair return twofold.
“Among the Wolves” is deadly in its aim and intentions. Unlike what some people might think of the animal, the wolf symbolizes loyalty, family, communication, wisdom, teaching, and intelligence. This song is multi-faceted, with some dreadfully heavy passages, and some lighter ones. “Raise Empires” has many elements of power and sweeter melodies. The riff changes keys a few times but the song never loses sight of its audience. They also know when to dial up the melodies that tug at your heart, and hit you in the guts. This is powerful stuff. “Thorns of Fire” closes the album, and it’s another powerhouse of a song, dripping with tones of hate and despair. There is another delicate clean passage in the middle, but hopelessness and regret rule the song.
For a band who has been around for 30 years, they show no signs of slowing down. They have a formula, and it works for them and for their fans. Six songs of total dread and anguish await the listener, and by the end of the album, you feel like you lost a year in your life, or on the flip side, you gained a new perspective on how to deal with things. Either way, this was a soul-testing experience.
8 / 10
"On Thorns I Lay" Track-listing:
1. Fallen From Grace
2. Newborn Skies
4. Among the Wolves
5. Raise Empires
6. Thorns of Fire
On Thorns I Lay Lineup:
Peter Miliadis – Vocals
Christos Dragamestianos – Guitars
Nikolas Paraskevopoulos – Guitars
Kostas Mexis – Bass
Antonis Ventouris – Keyboards
Stelios Darakis – Drums