There is something about vocals in music that gives it a whole another dimension. They are more than just another instrument and absence of vocals, for the most part, leaves a grander gap than absence of an instrument. Even the established instrumental acts more often than not, end up flirting with usage of vocals in their music. The results vary.
But that being said, instrumental music doesn’t necessary need vocals in order to be interesting and immersive, but without vocals it’s harder to achieve just that. Looking back in history of music, however, major part of classical music is instrumental and the track of its longevity speaks for itself.
So let’s look at subject at hand here in the beginning of 2023. One year after the release of their debut album, The Republic, the American instrumental band Thumos is ready with their sophomore release. In between the two they even released a spit – talking about creative juices fowing.
Entitled Symposium, the album consists of eight songs, which unsurprisingly builds further on the doom-laden progressive post metal/rock of the debut. One year is a very short time between albums, especially such compound ones. On top of all that, The Republic was such an eminent opus, that creating a worthy successor is a colossal task. But Thumos don’t seem less ambitious or tempted to scale-down the vast cinematic scope of the debut.
The album opens with “Phaedrus”, which in its form come across as an intro, but +5-mimute-long one at that. But fear not, the opener doesn’t come across as too long or ineffective. On contrary, the unfolding and buildup throughout the song make it not only interesting, but also almost nail-biting.
From then on, the band starts digging deeper into the diversity of their music, but always as means for creating the intensity and the atmosphere of the album as a whole. Some songs are predominantly guitar driven, while others are pushed forward by infectious keyboards.
Sonically the band balances out the dusty rawness of the overall production with staggeringly beautiful elements, which is the cornerstone of the intensity of the band’s music. Symposium at the same time it comes across as the backing soundtrack and as the guiding light.
Throughout the band maintains the intensity and stimulating qualities even thou there are numerous repetitive moments in their music. Thumos achieve this by arranging songs not only gorgeously but also in a way that makes it vital and constantly moving forward.
Technical proficiency of the performance shouldn’t be neglected, but it never steals the spotlight and is at all times serving the album.
Symposium is proof that instrumental albums, if done properly and with understanding that lack of vocals does play a role in music, can be truly staggering. Even the closer, which does come across as bit too long, manages to keep the intensity and the overall driving feel of the album.
If you give this album your attention and don’t run scarred because of the first impact of the soundscape or the fact that this is an instrumental album, Symposium will take your attention to a degree where you find yourself just sitting there gazing. Is there a better trade-off for giving your attention than your attention being taken completely?