Late last year, alt-rock singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle and sludge metal fellas Thou released an absolutely stonking collaboration album May Our Chambers Be Full via Sacred Bones Records. It was a ferociously majestic effort that was easily one of the best releases of the year. It was so bloody good that it turns out there was an EP’s worth of material left over. Is it any good, though?
Well, yes. Yes, it is.
The Helm of Sorrow consists of three originals and a cover of The Cranberries track ‘Hollywood’. The original material is very nearly on a par with the music that made the ‘proper’ album. ‘Orphan Limbs’ gets proceedings moving. Randomly, this track reminds me of a doomier version of the Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam bassist) side project Three Fish from the late ’90s. There’s a near Middle Eastern spiritual vibe and it showcases the more restrained elements of the collaboration before a denouement of fiery explosion. Nice.
Next up is ‘Crone Dance’ which begins more forcefully with a damn nice ISIS/Cult of Luna riff of mega chuggery. It’s offset nicely with Rundle’s melodic vocals in the chorus. Think the collab between Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas if that collab was actually any good. A slap in the face of a track that ends with a cuddle.
‘Recurrence’ is also brimming with saucy riffage of the highest order. The guitar tone on this record and May Our Chambers Be Full is just the must sludgy and filthy dirty entity since Swamp Thing. This is fairly unrelenting without much vocal input from Rundle. Its ferocity is well placed after the dynamism of the first two tracks.
That just leaves the cover of ‘Hollywood’, originally by The Cranberries, to tie things up. This is works surprisingly well. Personally, that particular track has always seemed like a bit of a weak single by the Irish jangle pop/alt rock outfit but the ERR/Thou treatment adds a ferocity that gives the heavy bits more power and the restrained verses a deeper gravitas.
Overall, fucking love this one.