Thrawsunblat is an anagram of “narwhal butts,” but that’s not how beginnings should go for Canada’s foremost folk-black metal project. Featuring members of Woods of Ypres (Joel Violette), Immortal Bird (Rae Amitay), and Obsidian Tongue (Brendan Hayter), the oddly monikered Thrawsunblat venture through the Great White North like they’re part of a J.R.R. Tolkien story. Majestic yet grounded, arboreal yet pastoral, the trio’s three previous albums have set the stage for Great Brunswick Forest, which is, naturally, an homage to Canada and a significant musical step up from 2016’s celebrated Metachthonia effort.
To wit, Decibel and Thrawsunblat have teamed up to premiere “Via Canadensis,” a rollicking glide of a song that posits Violette’s campfire vocals and plucky electro-acoustic guitars front and center. While folk metal or folk-black metal has had its place — think Isengard, Falkenbach, Finntroll, Otyg, and Skyclad (not black, obviously) — the Canadians are wrenching it from Europe to the heart of New Brunswick and beyond! We invite you, brave lads and lasses, to imbibe in Thrawsunblat’s Canadian aesthetic, their reverence for Grand Falls Gorge, the Hartland Covered Bridge, the Bay of Fundy, and the region’s 14 wineries.
Says Violette: “‘Via…’ is very much the single of the album — fast paced and anthemic, with dashes of ancient history, Canadiana, and travel. It creates its own texture and world, and in this world are nods to themes and textures explored more deeply in the other songs. For example, ‘Singer of Ageless Times’ and ‘Green Man of East Canada’ each delve into aspects of history and the Maritimes, ‘Song of the Summit’ explores the call of the journey and its rewards, and I think the entire album in general is filled with an atmosphere of Canada, especially that of the east coast. Moreover, ‘Via Canadensis’ is an easy choice for philosophical reasons: I think more bands need to release ancient history-based singles. The themes of the album had to fit the colours of the album as well, which — when you have acoustic guitars leading the show — it always causes one to reflect a bit on the past, on one’s many sets of roots: familial, cultural, musical. How am I how I am? What countless set of experiences and people had to have existed in order for me to exist as I am — personally, musically, what have you, and for the culture we live in to exist as it is. Then, from there, how might posterity be influenced in some small way by what we do and create today? It’s nuts.”
Amitay adds: “The recording process was uniquely awesome because it was the first time Joel (Violette) and I had ever recorded music together in the same room, despite being bandmates since 2012. I recorded my drums and ‘guest’ vocals for Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings as well as Metachthonia in Boston and Chicago, respectively. For Great Brunswick Forest, I traveled to Toronto and from there, Joel and I drove to Goderich, ON to Beach Road Studios. It was absolutely beautiful and now I’m pretty sure we can’t go back to recording separately, it was such a killer dynamic when we removed the long-distance element.”
Put on the hiking boots, grab the walking poles, and get ready for an unreal trip through the forested uplands of New Brunswick with Thrawsunblat.