Album Review: Thantifaxath – “Hive Mind Narcosis” (Avant-garde Black Metal)

Written by Helena

ThantifaxathHive Mind Narcosis
> Avant-garde black metal
> Ontario, Canada
> Releasing June 2
> Dark Descent Records

My god, does this album start with a bang: drums crash, dissonant guitars ring out, and vocals roar. That’s right; Thantifaxath is BACK. Their new album, Hive Mind Narcosis (set to release June 2nd), is a solid banger, front to back. Although along similar lines as the anonymous band’s last full-length release, Sacred White Noise, Hive Mind Narcosis is a new beast, perched to annihilate the unsuspecting listener’s ear. The band’s biographical details are non-existent, but their PR firm assures us: “In every truly pioneering band’s career there is a moment when they set themselves apart from the pack and become an island.” 

The band Thantifaxath first (as far as this writer is concerned) appeared on the scene in 2011, releasing an eponymous tape with Dark Descent records (whose impressive roster includes scene-sweethearts Blood Incantation) and much like information on their anonymous members, their release schedule is sparse. They next released Sacred White Noise in 2014 and followed it up in 2017 with Void Masquerading as Matter, all of which were highly lauded by fans. The closest analogues to the band that I can think of are Deathspell Omega (*gasp*), Mitochondrion, and Imperial Triumphant; but these comparisons are just that; none of them compare with the raw power that the trio present on Hive Mind Narcosis. They seamlessly blend death metal, black metal, and doom metal with the avant-garde sensibility that I LOVE to see in contemporary metal.

However, my one issue with the Hive Mind Narcosis: although I did absolutely adore this release, it is very much a Thantifaxath album. By this I mean that if you are already familiar with their discography, you won’t be too surprised to hear what’s inside. Although the band does what they do in a stellar fashion, it can be considered one of another in a slew of recent disso-death releases (see Ulcerate, Perilaxe Occlusion, and Esoctrilihum). And, unfortunately, this release does not stand out from the crowd. The overall melodic construction of this album is stellar and is a punishing listen from start to finish, but the band does little else to step out from these murky waters.

The band describes this upcoming release as having “two levels working in dichotomy with one another. On one level there is a strong resistance to something, and on the other there is a total acceptance of that same thing. Beyond that, we leave it open to your interpretation.” With this in mind, we can at least try to guess at what the band means by this. Thantifaxath’s return after five years is quite good; aside from the overall quality of the recording improving and tighter arrangements, a few tracks stick out to me. The album’s opener, “Solar Witch”, is a stellar start to a sophomore full-length release. Dissonant riffs abound! Absolutely crushing drums! Vocals that ring out with enough despair to wake the dead! It proves to be quite the imposing listen and you hardly want to move a muscle until it is over. Let’s take a look at the lyrics to this track:

Surrendеr to this persistent
Circling of wolves
Starvеd to wake you up
Surrender to this persistent
Circling of wolves
In a World of hungry ghosts

In my opinion, the band is speaking about political upset; the circling wolves being the ever-present, looming threat of fascism knocking at our door. But does the band want us to rebel or accept our fate? It’s not immediately clear. Let us take a look at the album’s closer “Mind of The Sun”:

I have knelt in your oil-soaked churches
And set fire to my own thoughts
One who would thwart the programming of their mother
And burn the souvenirs of the father
To abstain the screaming metabolic monster
Of generations deceived

This, I believe, is the antidote to the poison suggested in “Solar Witch”. We must upset the status quo set forth by our parents to find our way out of the darkness and into the light. Let’s continue:

He opens my heart and cuts out the world
And leaves it’s weight in empty words
A spineless coward
Who poisons his own roots and all life
May the fires of the sun awaken you

These lyrics speak of a spineless coward and waiting for the fires of the sun to awaken you. Bleak, but in my opinion, profound.

Album art featuring Francesco Goya’s “Witches Flight” (1798)


In short, it is an overall solid record for Thantifaxath; if you’re a fan of their music already, I don’t think you’ll hear anything revolutionary. That being said, if you aren’t a fan, this is a good primer for the genre of (for lack of a better term) “weird” metal. It touches on black, doom, death, and avant-garde metal in it’s relatively short runtime, but in my opinion it doesn’t do anything stellar. It does carry emotional weight and has its moments of profundity, but I find it does not strike much of a chord for me. Maybe I’m a tough critic, but, hey, decide for yourself!