Review: Thy Row – Unchained
Rockshots Records (September 24th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Back in 2017, I was introduced to a band named Wraith with their album Revelation. I remember being blown away by the metal riffs and song structures, but what stood out to me the most was the production. It had the type of chugging guitar tone that personifies everything I love about metal. That album had a feel that stuck with me and it became one of my favorite albums that year. No other album since then has made me feel that way…until now. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Thy Row.
Hailing from Finland, Thy Row have only been around for a few years, releasing an independent EP back in 2019 and this full-length release. So what makes this album so special? The melody arrangements combined with a guitar tone that equals the punchiness of the drums and a singer with the ability to both growl and scream like a banshee. This is no more evident than in the title track, the first I ever heard from the band. Singer Mikael Salo does some incredible vocal gymnastics here and I was instantly hooked and sought out the rest of the album.
The album has so many great standouts. ‘Just Fine’ takes the top spot for best chorus. The first half has a 1/4 drum beat then speeds up to a 4/4 pace in the second half. If I had a favorite time signature combo for a chorus, this would be it. First single ‘Road Goes On’ begins the album and immediately draws you in to the power this album has to offer. The perfectly sequenced mid-tempo ‘Down On My Knees’ slows things down just a tad and adds the right change of pace before the album concludes with the three-part masterpiece ‘The Downfall’, consisting of three separate songs that have a connected narrative. It’s so refreshing seeing a band do multiple related tracks on one album, rather than separating the tracks over the course of several releases, which is what everyone else seems to do for some strange reason.
As great as this album is, there is one track that falters. ‘Hidebound’ utilizes more modern sounding elements: Downturned guitars, a gritty but ultimately plodding melody, and the biggest faux pas, a singer at times talking through the verses rather than singing, like a beat poet. If you decide to check out tracks online before purchasing, make this the last track.
We may be witnessing the start of something great here, a metal band in their infancy who may make a major impact on the scene in just a few short years. Some bands need to find and develop their sound through trial and error and others hit the ground running. Thy Row hit the ground so hard and fast it will make your head spin. Just when I think I have heard all the best albums this year, this one comes along and gives them a run for their money. I am not bloviating here when I say this album is a metal masterpiece, so spread the word. All metal fans need to have this album in their collection.
Note – I was all set to submit my review and give this album a full praise when something unexpected happened. I primarily listened to the album utilizing my high end wired headphones. When I listened to the album on three other devices (iPhone speakers, cheap Bluetooth speakers, and my car stereo) I found my listening experience to be vastly different based on the equipment I was using. The album sounds incredible with good quality devices but is greatly diminished by lower quality hardware. I suspect it may be to a brick walled production, something that usually is not an issue for me but is quite noticeable here. When checking out this album, make sure you use good or excellent equipment, as small or cheaper equipment will not let you appreciate the dynamics on display.