Near Life Experience is the latest release from Glasgow’s Thula Borah, an interesting four-piece who seem to be as at home in the avant-garde underground as they’re playing to leather clad metal heads.
‘Analysis Paralysis’ sets the scene with an earth churning instrumental that brings to mind the sand-blasted road-warrior stoner metal of Clutch or Queens of the Stone Age, while ‘The Psychopath Test’ is an eerie epic and packed with winding riffs and propulsive drums reminiscent of unfortunately-named but much-missed cult heroes ISIS.
‘Confabulation’ is the only track to come in at under five minutes, opening with a pedal-addled blast of My Bloody Valentine noise and pitching into a slacker grunge chorus befitting Dinosaur Jr before collapsing into a haze of feedback; it’s a fair bet that it would set ears bleeding live.
‘Do No Harm’ starts off more gently, with rolling bass and picked guitar but soon a guitar explosion like a battering ram slams in.
In fact, there’s a passing resemblance to Smashing Pumpkins’ goth epics in the quiet-loud dynamics and guitar pedals being rung for all they’re worth.
It doesn’t quite match the quality of the opening three tracks, but we’re soon on to the feedback drenched ‘Unhappen’, another seismic slab of guitar fireworks, albeit one that feels a little ponderous strung out to nine minutes.
Finally things draw to a close with the title track, a deceptively simple acoustic guitar ballad that finally gives way to a vast, but far more uplifting crescendo.
In its own way ‘Near Life Experience’ might be the most shocking track on the record, carrying a band that have spent the previous 28-minutes delivering a blitzkrieg assault on the senses an emotional heft that the other tracks have sometimes missed.
It’s a surprising discovery and one that once again marks Thula Borah out as a very special band.
Words: Max Sefton