Late Week Quickie: Kthulus/ A Thing Long Forgotten

Kthulus hails from Kamloops, British Columbia. I stumbled onto them on Instagram, when they started following me. Seeing the logo, I had to check them out. It’s basically a two-piece unit, with Jared Ehler on harsh, lead vocals. Sean Raven handles everything else, including “drum programming.”

I LOVE this EP. I was describing it to my beloved Newbie-Doomer during our morning biz meeting on the porch. When I started to describe the excellently programmed drums, she challenged me. “Wait a minute. You hate auto-tune, and you’re always going on about live recording and real music. WTF? How in the heck do you like fake drums?”

Fair enough.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think auto-tune is evil, it’s just a tool. Is it over used? You betcha. And as soon as I hear it, I generally tune out. If someone relies on that crap because they can’t sing, well F-that. But when used sparingly, or to make a deliberately processed effect, all power to ’em.

She’s also right about my usual reaction to programmed drums, and I’ve made a bunch of snarky comments about EZ Drummer and other Pro Tools plug-ins. But there’s a heck of a difference between two dudes in Kamloops making the best of what they got, and entire studios/labels/producers cranking over-processed crap, everything sounding like it was produced by some vicious, remorseless hybrid clone-thing of Bob Rock and Rick Rubin, brick-walled with compression and deserving of an “untouched by human hands” disclaimer.

I don’t think or feel that’s the case with A Thing Long Forgotten. Instead, this is an example of Pro Tools or another DAW with various plug-ins and effects being used creatively and with craft behind it. And as far as the programmed drums, once you get past simple kick/snare/tom/cymbal combos in 4/4 time, that shit is hard. I’ve never, not in recent memory at least, heard drum programming done with a sense of groove. Honestly, it sounds more alive and vibrant than a lot of human drummers I can think of, and the temptation to call them out right now is strong. If there were an award for “best drum-programming sequence in hard rock or metal,” Raven would win, hands down.

As for the music itself, it reminds me a lot of My Arms, Your Hearse– era Opeth. In fact, if Opeth had went in a Doom direction instead of the meandering prog path, this is close to what it might sound like. It has that feel to it, but with more of a smile than a dead-pan growl. I mean, opener Gasp of the Green Ghost is flat-out fun. The bass is totally nasty with distorted overdrive, the guitars are fluid and heavy as hell, and the vocals are great. Especially when the clean vocal track floats above it. The whole EP caries the same vibe, never gets boring, and is the prefect intro to an interesting duo.

Music like this doesn’t happen by accident. Every 5-minute song probably has hours, hundreds of hours, of experimentation and pure slogging drudgery behind it, painstaking learning and hyper-critical standards. This EP is offered at a ridiculously low price on Bandcamp. You should buy it, maybe chip in a couple extra bucks if you can. Kthulus needs to be encouraged and validated, so we can experience a full-length release from these guys. That would be awesome…

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