A ton of great collaborative albums have come out of the American metal underground in recent years. Artists like Thou, The Body, Uniform, and Full Of Hell have all worked on various projects together and with others, fusing their singular extreme visions into fascinating, harrowing synergies.
The latest in this excellent body of like-minded brutality is Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou‘s ‘May Our Chambers Be Full’. Fusing the scuzzy but cerebral Louisiana doom of Thou with the ethereal eccentricities of singer/songwriter Rundle, the album sees the two like-minded artists come together to create something truly special.
With musicians as strong as these coming together, ‘May Our Chambers Be Full’ was never going to fail. Rundle and Thou knock all thirty-seven minutes of it out of the park, forging a collaboration so aesthetically synchronised that you wonder why it ever took this long for the project to come together.
It’s tempting to pore over the album and look for the differing brush strokes of each artist, but what’s so great about ‘May Our Chambers Be Full’ is that the symbiosis is so seamless that it’s impossible to discern individual fingerprints. Sure, you can hear Thou‘s grungy riffing in ‘Monolith’, or Rundle‘s post-rock moodiness in ‘Magickal Coast’, but even in those moments both visions are tightly bound together, content to work as one instead of fighting each other for prominence.
There’s an emotional honesty to the album that feels effortless and natural. Its apocalyptic weightiness envelops and obliterates, like watching a star turn supernova. These seven tracks are heavy in the musical sense but also in that they seem to carry actual weight, in the way that depressives describe their condition as like an actual, physical force bearing down on them. ‘Out Of Existence’ is especially heartbreaking, monolithic in its trudging drive. At only three and half minutes long it feels like an eternity, in the best way possible.
￼The aforementioned grunge influence on ‘May Our Chambers Be Full’ is also worth noting. The sludgy misery of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains can be heard across the album, and proves to be the closest tonal parallel to Rundle and Thou‘s vision. There’s a churning sense of dread to its chord changes and ear for melody that signifies a clear influence from the 90s Pacific Northwest.
However, ‘May Our Chambers Be Full’ never sounds stuck in the past. There’s a sharpness to its production and a focus on atmospheric beauty that belongs wholly to its creators. It’s a soundtrack for these dark days where you half expect to turn on the news and learn the sun really is turning supernova. But there’s also an inherent sense of joy in its conception, a simple but refreshing reminder that when people work together they can do great things, no matter how heavy the world may seem.