Thorns, the second full-length from Ohio-based Sludge metallers Rue, was released Nov 2011. Since Rue’s last full-length was in 2003, and it wasn’t exactly memorable, when listening to this album it’s best to think of them as a new band. Their sound has certainly matured and developed, and what you get on Thorns is a solid 65 minutes of deep-toned, sludgey goodness. Tracks like “For Thousands of Years” rock out the crunchy riffs, and, paired with Jeff Fahl’s biting snarl and resonating, dirge-like compositions, there’s much for fans of Kyuss and High on Fire to enjoy.
Other stand-out tracks include the sweeping “Sadaver” and “Broken Arms Broken Wings”, but I found many of the other songs – despite skilled, solid musicianship and a natural, easy groove – continued on well-past their natural finishing point. Despite been overly drawn out in places, the compositions are stong, and there’s a solid layering of classic sludgy riffs and hammering drums, that always sees you through each song.
The main problem with this album, and it’s a bit of a biggie, is that with the glut of seriously wicked sludge (and the avalanche of mediocre sludge) hitting the scene in the last few years, Thorns just doesn’t stand out. It sounds derivative, which I don’t think was intentional, given the overall quality of the songs. It’s a good album, but there’s no shining feature that makes it stand out, no singular aspect to clasp onto and say “this is something different, something special”. And there’s simply too many other stunning albums in this genre to spend time getting acquainted with the less-than-perfect releases.
Had Rue released this album five years ago, as a real follow-up to their debut, I think I would’ve felt differently, but in today’s sludgey world, Thorns is too late to deliver a big enough punch. It’s a good album, but after five years, I wanted something mind-blowing.
You can check out a few of Rue’s songs on their not-well-updated Myspace Page.