Threads of Fate – The Cold Embrace of the Light
Threads of Fate has reached my ears by means of Seven Spires guitarist Jack Kosto joining the line-up and to make things even better, Spires drummer Chris Dovas, also took part in the recordings of their debut album as a session member. So yes, you guessed it, we’re kicking off this review with a good dose of totally un-biased fangirling. Threads started off with an EP titled “A Funeral for the Virtuous”, which I had labelled as dark sympho-power metal with harsh vocals on the side, at the time of hearing it. But apparently, in a fashion of being scared of genres and boxes, with their debut album they decided to tear apart even that already shabby and wobbly genre tag that I had so unknowingly bestowed upon them. “The Cold Embrace of The Light” is a gorgeous sub-genre and sub-subgenre cocktail that avoids falling into any category while stepping into as many of them as possible.
It was a massive surprise for me when the first single and title track was released, to hear them all of a sudden slow down into a doom metal pace. The song isn’t purely doom metal due to a very rich orchestral soundscape and a clean vocal style that defies the genre, whilst still fitting with its atmosphere. But the drum and guitar groundwork was very much doom metal, and it had me expecting a shift in direction with the debut. Then, I was surprised yet again, when diving into the album and having the second track after the intro, ‘Moonrise’, hit me with the power metal pacing I was expecting initially. A full listen revealed much more than I saw coming so let’s dive in.
Threads of Fate – The Cold Embrace of the Light ( Click here if the video does not play )
Before I make too much use of the term ‘power metal’, I want to make it perfectly clear that Threads has nothing to do with the general mood and tone of this genre. In fact, the emotional content is quite heavy, dark and melancholic. But there’s drum and guitar use that draws from that style, with fast, amped up riffage and double pedal patterns with fast snare pacing. And it’s quite the crazy contrast. I think the key that makes Threads of Fate’s sounds unique and also capable of blending such distant genre approaches is the idea of a struggle and inner conflict in which opposites strike at once. Depending on which layer of the music you’re focused on, it may strike you as bombastic and triumphant or as sad, melancholic, grieving, even macabre. And if you dare try to take it all in at once, you’ll be drowning in a feelings soup that will send you straight to therapy before you even know what hit you. To me personally it feels like a struggle of coming to terms with something, presenting on one end the rage, rebellion and frustration and on the other end, the victorious yet bittersweet feeling of having finally dealt with it as it is, whatever “it” may be.
From a compositional standpoint, it is diverse but not crammed or overpowering. They gave much space for the songs, themes and ideas to breathe and develop. Whether it’s the guitar riff or the orchestral ensemble, each song has some main themes to revolve around that create the general tone and direction of the songs, around which then all the flowery musical wizardry can unravel, in the form of varying riffs, bursting drum transitions and changing grooves or tensing and clearing out the entire band sound. The symphonic layer itself deserves a special shoutout. It sounds so massive, full and glorious, coming in waves of emotion, be it triumphant, mournful or even dramatic. It blends wind instruments, string sections and piano or shimmery fantasy keyboard tones into such a tasteful theatrical mashup of tones, images and feels, that you can just sink into it (then go to therapy). I often can’t even properly distinguish what of it is sampled orchestral background and what is keyboardist Vikram Shankar’s magic at work. And this guy also recorded the bass, so much respect there!
Threads of Fate – Love Held Hands with Hatred ( Click here if the video does not play )
The riffs are often based on constant down-picking, following along with a melody, sometimes in unison with the symphonic layers. At other times, they may just be spaced out chords in a typical doom metal fashion, and at one particular point during ‘The Horrors Within’, they even take a slightly off-beat, proggy chuggy approach. This song in particular must be my favourite, being the most intense, pressing and heavy on the album as well as the longest. Unlike the sympho-power-doom mashup that seems to be going on for most of the album, this one goes into some chillingly sinister orchestral soundscapes backed up by blast beats and black metal shrieking akin to Dimmu Borgir or Fleshgod Apocalypse. Though these moments don’t own the song, they create a shocking dramatic contrast when posed against Jon Pyres’ otherwise melancholic and soulful clean voice. It’s where his vocal abilities contrast and impress the most, but throughout the album he displays incredible versatility, control and power in his voice through his contrasts of harsh and clean as well as changes in emotional delivery. Sometimes he may sound genuinely heartbroken (‘The Cold Embrace of The Light’, ‘Love Held Hands with Hatred’). On other occasions he can get the doom metal monster going (Also ‘The Cold Embrace of the Light’) with a tone similar to Draconian’s Anders Jacobsson. With the cleans he can also get more tender and hopeful (‘Against the Shores of Le Monde’). And sometimes he pulls of a sort of low-voice spoken word aesthetic akin to what you might hear in Insomnium or, again, Dimmu Borgir.
There must also be some love for the guitar solos. Jack Kosto has always presented himself as an incredible shredder with a huge heart, and while the shredding is still big, on this album he left the heart take the fore-front more. He brings glorious bendy melodies filled with vibrant emotion, gracefully fitting the tone of the songs. However, as we clearly see in the outro to the title track, he refuses to let one solo go by with a least one tiny moment of shredding, because he has skill and that’s gotta show! Much love must also go to the cleared out piano parts, where the rest of the band goes silent and all of a sudden, we’re trying to figure out whether we’re at a symphonic piano concert or watching a heartbreak scene in a romance movie…
The song ‘Ashes’ closes off the emotional rollercoaster, with a tone that I believe represents death itself. But it is not super heavy and dark, it rather feels like the emotional struggle came throughout the album while dealing with the acceptance of death, and when it actually comes, the feeling is of just letting go, coming to terms and fading away. It is based exclusively on vocals, piano and orchestrations, and it makes an incredible closer. While most metal bands might take pride in being featured on Try-Not-To-Headbang compilations, Threads of Fate probably takes the winning cake in any Try-Not-To-Cry contest. so if you’re feeling particularly emotional and need to let some leaky eyes happen, they’re definitely here to help. “The Cold Embrace of the Light” is out on March 11 and it certainly deserves some attention.
- Beneath a Starless Sky (02:22)
- Moonrise (05:47)
- A Ghostly Portrait (07:36)
- The Horrors Within (08:39)
- Against The Shores of Le Monde (06:50)
- The Cold Embrace of the Light (05:57)
- Love Held Hands with Hatred (04:48)
- Ashes (04:18)