tHOLA – ‘Wolfburn’

tHOLA is translated as ‘wolf’, in an ancient East Indian language. Swiss thrash/power metal band tHOLA were formed in late 2016, by founder Rolf Rodo Studer (main songwriter). His mission was to gather the finest players and make speed power metal, with tech and prog aspects. As he was known as an unconventional lyricist, this didn’t take long.
In a matter of weeks, (the tracks) ‘sCREAMING WORLD’ and ‘DigiTal tIME’ were written. Second guitarist Patrick Ambord was headhunted, for his reputation as the musician with all the right qualities for which they were searching. A few months later, a 2 hour set was prepared. Playing their debut gig in the renowned Swiss club known as ‘Moshpit’, to a 200+ strong crowd, the response was overwhelming and highly memorable. Impressive, given that they only had 1 week in which to rehearse. tHOLA aims to play ‘uncompromising, fast, heavy, sometimes very playful metal, with a twist here and there – WOLFbURN Metal’.

iMPRISONMENT OF MY MIND – Straight in there, with a smooth, accomplished intro. Centring the track around a lower than average key, it’s pretty standard, but strangely restful power metal fayre. Something about that low key creates a soothing vibe – unusual for this genre, but the level of musicianship’s unquestionable and comes across immediately.

rIDE YOUR SYSTEM – Now the power makes itself known)! Here, we have a very palatably classic speed metal sound. Whilst the key doesn’t register much higher, there are some well-placed power screams and a sense of dreaminess, in places, verging on Malmsteen-esque classical metal. A slightly abrupt ending, but perfectly competent.

WOLFSBURN – Here we go, with a much more power-esque intro. The typical battery of drums, melodic riffs and vocals, into which, that unmistakable sense of feeling and enthusiasm have been injected. Picking up the pace, even if the lowered key still permeates most of the track and there are variations in tone, here and there. Rapid, though less abrupt ending, it’s done its job, but could do with a slightly more upbeat sound.

bABAWANGA – Oddly ambient, space rock sense to this intro. Alternating spoken and sung formats, there’s even a hint of bluesy, stoner stuff in here. Again, undeniable shredding skill, through which, the passion’s definitely audible, yet somehow, it’s missing that spark of energy.

yOUR tRACK – Opening with heightened energy, great fretwork and noticeably rhythmic drumming. Their enthusiasm’s faultless and their performance ability, flawless. Still, though, there’s just a sense of generally lower energy and a more downbeat feel, regardless of strategically placed power screams. Interestingly eastern closing riff, adding a sense of mystery.

fUERGO NEGRO – Darkened intro atmosphere and some unusual, difficult to identify sounds. Morphing into a slightly dull track, which, although clearly capably and intelligently constructed, lacks that vital excitement, carrying a pervading sense of greyness. Disappointing, given the obvious artistic flair behind it.

bEHIND tHE DESERt FLOWER – Again, that odd sense of contemplative ambience, this time, followed up by livelier stuff. More of a mystic ethos to this. Increased energy comes forward now, making a big difference. This is where some of that elusive excitement lives. Far more feeling becomes apparent here and it sounds much more like power metal.

x TREE – m – Now that’s more like it! Upping the power factor a lot more now, the whole mood’s changed, with it. Slightly Portrait-esque and even a ‘Tallica-esque technique thrown in there. Fans of their ‘And Justice For All’ era will relate to this. Intriguing lyrics now. It’s a more comfortable portrayal of power/speed metal at this point, which, though there’s still a hint of lower keys showing through, generally, shows a much more relatable form of speed/power metal. Easily comparable to ‘Tallica’s ‘And Justice For All’, for identification’s sake. More of this style would benefit the album, IMHO.

DIGItAL tIME – Ooh now we go to the opposite extreme, of opening with a mighty power scream and a highly effective, relatable riff section. Some great bass work in there! Melodically uplifting, vocally energised and catchy throughout. This is what power metal means!)

sCREAMING WORLD – Aha! Already, I relate to the title! Oh but, just as you think that misplaced ambience is making a comeback, the yummy speed riffs and tantalising drum rolls reappear. As do the highly energised vocals and again, that nicely placed bluesy stoner effect. Going for it now, with those hyped up riffs, it’s a good choice as closer. Ending on a final blast of drum rolls, the energy here has saved the day.

Overall – An album whose strength and relatability becomes more apparent towards the latter half. Generally, there’s an unfortunate tendency to downbeat tones and well-intentioned, but misplaced styles, making it less accessible, on the whole. However, the intricacy of technique and general musicianship is indisputable and consistently conveyed. In terms of catch and accessibility, it’s saved by the last few tracks and specifically, the closer. More of the increasingly upbeat tones, melodies and identifiable sounds performed within the final section would just increase its listenability.

7/10 *******

For fans of Metallica, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, power/speed metal, generally and N.W.O.H.M.

http://www.facebook.com/thola2016

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2 Responses to “tHOLA – ‘Wolfburn’”

  1. tHOLA Says:

    Kimberlee Wonser

    tHOLA is translated as

  2. tHOLA Says:

    Twitter Proxy

    tHOLA is translated as

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