REVIEW: ThouShaltNot - "The Holiness Of Now"

By Mike Ventarola

Chain Border

The Holiness of NowHaving been a fan and consumer of the ADSR Musicwerks label, one can contend that they have not put out a dud yet, nor is it ever anticipated that they ever will. Thankfully, ThouShaltNot is in their fold, and quite frankly the 11th Biblical commandment should read that Thou shalt NOT ignore ThouShaltNot!

This duo marries splendid vocal harmonies along with great pulse rhythms, angelic choirs and everything but the kitchen sink. After hearing the onslaught of tired NIN clones and non-imaginative electronic bands, this group is REFRESHING to the ears. That's right folks, they can SING as well as play. No phony compressed vocals here that sound like someone gargled with Drano for the tenth time. Also missing are the cheap casio tones with limited ranges.

Here, the singing style is beyond pleasing to the point of being almost subliminally hypnotic. On a surround sound stereo, this CD cooks! You are enveloped in a wall of sound that bounces around the room while the vocals seem to go through you in some type of cosmic spiritual interplay. Their style could be equated as a cross between Germany's Behind The Scenes and Clan of Xymox with a lot of extra touches to avoid these same comparisons. The States have been long overdue for a band to rival some of the best Euro counterparts. It's a tall order, but this band is heading in that direction.

Soren Grey initially catches the listener off guard. We are introduced to an angelic choir and then a fluttering of electronic music layered over deep pounding drum sounds. Do not adjust your set, this is how it is supposed to sound. Fear not though, because after the intro, the fluttering coalesces into a Clan of Xymox style with a few baby cries tossed in to punctuate the lyrics about someone not being allowed to grow up and out of the shadow of the maternal clutches. Last Comfort deals with finding the joy of regret and moving forward while "we clutch today in disdain of tomorrow."

Without Faith is intense in its simplicity. Lyrically, we are introduced to a dialogue between 2 people. One asks the other to prove themselves, somewhat demarcating that they themselves are not trustworthy, and are nothing more than mere blood and flesh without a soul. The vocal chorus on this track will send chills down the spine with the beauty and delivery. In The Tower begins somewhat ambiently and then becomes a somewhat ominous electronic track. Gregorian style choruses are infused between the white noise and pulsing rhythms.

The Sting has dialogue from radio's and television sets layered between orchestrated violin music. In an instant, it erupts into a hip swinging beat that is highly addictive. This is not only a great cut for the dance clubs, but something to do the horizontal lambada by! If you don't sing along with the chorus by the second time you hear it, you are surely dead. Credo has a similar rhythm line to the Halloween theme at the opening which then delivers elements of dark monastic chorus lines that are simply superb. The track takes us on an introspective journey that despite all that is good and bad in our lives, there remains the element of belief. The Greater Good brings us a quirky electronic side of the band where they suffuse rather interesting sound elements in a macabre element similar to a funky Danny Elfman.

Embrace The Sun is segued from the preceding track. Violin echoes under the dance beat giving this a haunted feel. If this track hasn't made it to the club DJ's playlist in your area, REQUEST it! A Trace takes us from the bouncy element of the last track and delves towards a sense of darkness with sotto voce spoken lyrics. In Hope Of Flight provides a bit of a militaristic drum beat, backward masking and a message about hell. The lyrics are a plea and anticipation for overcoming mediocrity. Again, angelic choruses accompany this track making it hauntingly beautiful while fully danceable.

ThouShaltNot have outdone themselves with this release. Everything about the recording is tightly knit. The lyrics are intelligent and thought provoking. There is even a bit of irony where the positive songs have a doom like atmosphere and the gloomy lyrics have a more upbeat swing to them. The Holiness of Now has a pseudo religious element inherent within it without becoming preachy by any means. The utilization of angelic choruses really gives a great body of sound texture to the songs. Reed and Fuleki have such a great harmony together that it sounds as if they rehearsed for 20 years.

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