The Thermals - Desperate Ground | Album Review | By Volume

She goes on and on and on and on about love. But am I ever enough? Our Fold - She Goes On

The Thermals

Desperate Ground

No band makes such decisive anger sound this profound.

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Author: on April 25, 2013
Saddle Creek
April 16, 2013

Maybe it’s a hackneyed device to declare from the outset that the following review isn’t about the Thermals releasing a doom metal record. The truth is, though, that the Thermals have no interest in challenging me to find words for their sound; it’s the effect they have that’s more difficult to articulate. That’s not so much a disclaimer, here, as its own promotional slogan; fans of the Thermals are by this point suitably conscious of the claustrophobic but compelling tunnel we enter when the first chords break in through the stained glass window. The vaguest of feelings get shouted with conviction to highlight their complexity, all inside a storm of single-minded guitars that beg the question: where’s the let-up?

Desperate Ground gets the raw crackle of Fuckin’ A as opposed to the relatively soft buzz of Personal Life, distancing Hutch Harris somewhat in his loudest moments, as he returns to that angrier, faux-patriotic, Body, Blood, Machine self. But there are sparks here that hint the theme is not so one-dimensional, or, certainly, comprehensive. If we take closer “Our Love Survives” at face value, which we should never ever do, it sounds as though it finds some form of redemption in an unconditional, reckless allegiance. If we take “Born To Kill”‘s sneers of “Blood on my hands; when you command, I will!” then no such redemption exists.

So perhaps this Thermals, old through a variety of lenses, has taken just a shuffled step back from the microscope and can now see a little more subject matter. But, based in its familiarly impulsive nature – all four chords, no stopping for breath, every ounce of passion – I’d be more tempted to focus on the fact that every Thermals record grows as its initial simplicity makes way for all manner of interpretation and personal projection. Desperate Ground has already done that to me. You can hear the same axes grinding with just the same vitriol, and the same fists clenching with just the same fury.

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