We live, as the old Chinese curse that was never Chinese in the first place goes, in interesting times. Political instability, the rise of perpetually increasing degrees of insular and hate-fuelled nationalism, fear mongering by the media on an almost unprecedented scale, and a devastatingly real crisis of the natural climate which is seemingly forever pushed to the back of the news queue in favour of soundbites from puppet master personality politicians. Time to get angry before we all get fried.

Aseethe are angry. Their world is one full of unspent rage, fury at the world they see around them and the all too evident injustices of society. They do not, however, position themselves as some sort of messianic entity wherein the answers lie – their lyrics demonstrate the weakness of the human spirit, the exhaustion at the absurdity of it all, and the contradictions that have led us to the black void in ‘No Realm’.

The five tracks that make up Throes shift and twist amongst themselves to reveal layers to Aseethe, which their debut album Hopes of Failure hinted at but never fully realised. There is a main focus throughout the album on ideas of wrath, and it is clear that here is a band playing out every cathartic nugget of anger within themselves. The lyrics centre on ideas of purging, of hopelessness, of the required fight to overcome and are encapsulated perfectly in the lines from album closer ‘Our Worth is the New Measure’, where the agonised howl of “Regain our will /To bring down /The elite,” perfectly sums up the themes spread over the course of the album as a whole. Throes is unrelenting in its attention-grabbing excellence, and hardly allows the listener space to breathe, even in its quieter moments which only exist as respite from the maelstrom that is not too far behind.

The album opens with the title track, which carries all of the hallmarks of the doom metal genre – namely achingly slow, crushingly loud and carefully crafted slabs of minimalism which are insistent in their single-minded pursuit of beauty through attrition. Labelmates SUMAC have explored similar territory on their last two albums, yet there is a degree of depth to the bleakness here which few others have managed to surpass. The down tuned guitars and menacingly slow yet proficient drumming welcome you into Aseethe’s sense of glamourous squalor, hopeful despondency and immersive ennui. The band’s main songwriter, Brian Barr, hollers over the funereal cacophony with all of the doom energy he can muster. Bass player Noah Koester delivers occasional vocal in support of Barr’s and these are much more black metal in the grain of his voice, bringing to mind Xasthur before he lost his dark mojo and picked up an acoustic guitar. The interplay between Barr’s guttural roar and Koester’s higher pitched shriek is one of the factors that elevates Aseethe from other bands ploughing the same arid landscape.

‘To Victory’ begins with some more muted guitar picking, as if reflecting, breathing and nursing the bruises of the jarring caterwauling of the album’s first track. This is soothing for the listener and shows a side of the band which pushes their work beyond the realms of many in the same scene. This only beckons us into a false sense of security, however, as the riff which sludges throughout the rest of the song when the inevitable happens is more brutal, more devastating than on ‘Throes’. The drums drag the song along, kicking and screaming its way into the light of the brutal truth of reality.

There is a sense of self-hypoxia in the rage that runs through the clogged veins of Throes which encapsulates the essence of the work as a whole – a cry for resistance as a demonstration of anger with an awareness of the futility of it all. The album’s mid-point is a beautiful, feedback-drenched drone which fully highlights Aseethe’s ability to distress and appease, often simultaneously. This track serves to separate the two distinct halves of the album – the first being centred on anger yet seemingly unaware of the potential ways in which to address the issues at hand, the second being more of a call to arms. The fact that the track is called ‘Suffocating Burden’ is something of a misnomer, a misdirection away from the sense of a newly realised solution which comes in to play.

Throes is an accomplished body of work which highlights a range of emotional drives at the core of the band. Theirs is not a one-dimensional approach to doom as they shift between fragile beauty and dissonance to good effect, celebrating their mastery of the genre whilst showing a boldness for which they should be applauded. A cracker of an album.