While the group claims to play an atmospheric death metal style, a decent explanation for their previous effort, Thornwinged actually shows the band drifting away from that idea, treading into folk metal territory at times, even expressing some black metal tendencies along the way. The introductory track “Black Moon Diadem” establishes the former a bit as it plods along with a subtle nightmarish marching theme to the middle-eastern atmosphere suitable to an early Nile release. “Thornwinged” tackles a mid-tempo blackened groove to the mournful leads in the riffs akin to …en their medh riki fara… by Falkenbach. The additional keyboards in the background only amplify the sorrow felt in the deep pulse of the bass guitar and slight buzz of the leads that can bring a slightly noticeable air of doom metal to the hooks used in the main verses.
Then there’s “Heart of the Void”, the longest track of the release, and for good reason. Right from the start, it’s clear this is meant to be epic with the burdening mixture of gritty eighties heavy metal guitar work and neo-classical traits in the keyboards. Things slowly pick up, shifting to a gallop from the drums that help re-establish that folk metal touch encompassed in a very dreary world that only continues to grow darker. “Rainfall Epiphany”, however, quickly casts this EP into another direction. The melodic tendencies and atmospheres are there, though this track leaves behind most of the folk and blackened elements for more of a My Dying Bride approach. The pace plods along, and the slower chords and held notes work with the solid drum presence and loud click of the bass kicks to create a truly crushing environment that only continues to grow more depressing the deeper in you get.
Thornwinged is a much more aggressive departure from the melodic Unveilling the Origin, and it’s a welcome change of pace. Hopefully the traces of folk and black metal influences aren’t just coincidental, but rather an indication of their furthering growth as a unit, as the atmospheres Anguish Sublime manage to weave with them are really impressive. Thornwinged stands as a very well orchestrated release that, even though each track has its own world going on, it all still seems to fit into one flowing piece connected between two region-rich instrumental segments that tie it all together nicely. The best part is that you can grab this recording from the group’s Bandcamp account [at the time of writing this review] as a name your price download, so there’s no real reason not to check out the latest from Anguish Sublime and finally hear what this long-running band brings to the table.