Place your bruised fruits in a bowl, light some incense, pull on your fuzziest green sweater, and seat yourself upon a large floral rug because Thou has blessed us with a compilation of their Nirvana covers from throughout the years. “Blessings of the Highest Order,” released June 5th, consists of the singles, the b-sides, and the fan favourites. Over an hour of songs featuring snippets of interviews laced between squealing feedback, fervid chugging riffs, retching vocals and menacing drums.
Thou starts the album off with their cover of “Blew,” the first single Nirvana ever released back in 1989. There’s some wavering static beneath a clip from the 1993 interview between Kurt Cobain and Jon Savage and then there is the upheaval that is the beginning of “Blew;” the release of pent up resentment and rage. From “Blew” we’re tossed into an arguably angrier version of “School.” That famous riff made a touch more leaden; the vocals thick with discontent. Those drums as angry as the teacher slapping the ruler across your hands. The next song covered is “Stain.” Thou manages to make already angst-riddled tracks overflow with even more malaise and exasperation. The sludginess and the booming thuds capture what it feels like to hear Nirvana for the first time. It’s a shocking realisation that it feels good to go against the norm.
After “Stain” is “In Bloom” which features layered femme voices that peek out from the thick fuzz of the guitars and the endless crack of the drums. Next is the unbelievably high energy “Territorial Pissings.” This track is what I imagine being shot out of a cannon after drinking thirteen Red Bulls feels like. It is utterly and completely reckless, painfully catchy, and turns the heart rate up by 3000%. This cover makes me want to smash everything I own and then promptly set the mess and myself on fire. Similar to the original, it sounds like you’re actually in the crowd experiencing the absurdity. The aggression is just so undeniably palpable. AHHHHHH! Definitely one that needs to be played on repeat a few times.
After your heartbeat stops thudding in your ears, you’ll hear the fervent wails of “Scentless Apprentice.” The ascending intensity of the guitars is oh, so perfect, and the drums hit like angered footsteps charging after you. This track is absolutely menacing! The vile screams of “go away! Get away!” They’re a horrifying scene (scream) you can’t tear your eyes (ears) from! From their 2010 release “Baton Rouge, You Have Much To Answer For” is their “Sifting” cover. This song was my introduction to Thou. I knew I would give my beating heart to a band that could execute one of the best Nirvana songs in such a punishing fashion.
From one pain infliction to the next, “Milk It” is satisfyingly sinister and masterfully messy. Thou add unease to an already insane and brilliant track. A devastating cover of “Something in the Way” brought me back to being a sad thirteen year old crushing hard on the boy that introduced me to Nirvana. The touch slower shuffling to the track makes it sound like the band is crawling on hands and knees toward total ruin. The chorus is an explosion of screams and painful hums. Add screams to any already sad song to bring the sadness level all the way up. Thou closes the album out with the forever heartbreaking “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” Ending the album with two absolute… downers.
It is clear Thou has been, and continues to be, massively influenced by the Seattle band. I want my voice to ring out from the top of Mount Rainier to the swamplands of Louisiana that I love this band. “Blessings of the Highest Order” is an album you can listen to while you press flower petals lightly between book pages or it is an album you can listen to while you set your neighbour’s porch on fire because he won’t stop playing acoustic covers of Barenaked Ladies songs. Thou loves duality. From “In Bloom” to “Milk It” to “Something in the Way,” we have been gifted with the prettiest of pretty songs. This album is a holy shrine in 16 song form. Close your eyes and allow the riffs to beat it, beat it out of you.
The world is a fucking mess. Turn this album up, get jostled by the electricity, prance around in a field of fake fabric flowers, and do what is right. This is an album for people who have the Holy Bible sitting on their nightstand but between those two covers is actually a carved out hiding spot for a flask.