THORN — Bitter Potion (review)

THORN — Bitter Potion album cover Album · 1995 · Industrial Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Thorn are perhaps one of the most underappreciated industrial metal (or just metal in general) acts I think I've ever come across. It's lineup is one that's both spectacular and odd, featuring one of the first musical ventures of soon-to-be drummer of Soulfly Roy Mayorga, Winter guitarist Steven Flam, and a freshly-strung bassist/vocalist John Jesse making his debut. All in an industrial metal format, which is quite contrary to other the other types of metal they would go onto play in their respective bands. It's so peculiar looking at it from the outside that it's both baffling and understandable that the band was a commercial failure. Thorn were able to knock off two semi-albums (the first being a cassette-only release) until eventually the unsuccessful battle to gain leverage disbanded them shortly after this album. Although undoubted the band members would go onto great things, how does this cornucopia of bizarre fare in itself?

Bitter Potion isn't exactly as technical as most industrial metal, nor is it as sulking. It's actually quite a unique release from the scene, with abnormal time signatures and odd elements thrown in throughout. It has an overall organic style, almost stripped down. It is just three sole musicians after all, but each of them delivers a powerful performance. Roy Mayorga's thunderous slams are of course amazing as any Soulfly fan would know, and Flam is great on the strings. Jesse's vocals sound uncannily like Denis BĂ©langer circa 1990s, with his almost monotonous growl that I've come to enjoy very much. There are some middle-eastern influences thrown in here and there, though they are downplayed a fair amount so don't go in thinking it'll be the centerpiece. It does add a nice dash of eclecticism that does well to make this record fairly unique.

The best music in my opinion comes from the second half of the album ('Legions of Lace' and onward is fantastic), where it's a bit more cohesive stylistically, and less bouncing all over the place. The heavy stuff is all throughout so don't worry about not having that as a main aspect.

Although rather minimalist Thorn's debut is nothing to scoff at. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of 90's metal and searching for the odd stuff. This is perfect for you.
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Unitron wrote:
50 days ago
This is the definition of a deep cut


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