Review: Thot ‘Delta’

Belgium’s enigmatic, industrial post-rock collective Thot are as sonically hard to define as their evolving line-up. Founded by the ‘group brain’ Grégoire Fray in 2008, the band has gone through several changes and featured notable collaborations with names such as Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna, Ben Chisholm of Chelsea Wolfe, Belgian artist Marie-Jo Lafontaine, T. Raumschmiere and Catherine Graindorge.

Thot 'Delta' Artwork
Thot ‘Delta’ Artwork

Covering a multitude of sounds that incorporate rock, industrial, pop, dance and metal, Thot aspires to be a meeting of minds played out across a variety of mediums to create a cinematic journey of experimentation that has seen them produce 3 full-length albums, four EPs and a handful of standalone releases to date. Blurring the boundaries between the artistic vision and sonic dissonance of a truly creative ideology while growing Fray’s network of co-conspirators in number, time and geography.

Fourth album Delta was conceived between 2019 and 2023, and as such had a difficult genesis with the first iteration of the record written and scrapped due to ‘creative differences amplified by enforced social distancing’, forcing Fray to step back and re-evaluate his identity as an artist following the global catastrophe. One of the side effects of this crisis was that Delta sees the frontman singing in his native French, something he had previously felt was incompatible with his passion for what is primarily Anglo-America guitar music.

The result is a multi-faceted, groundbreaking album that has triumphed through adversity to produce one of the most unique releases of the year. It’s accompanied by a series of videos that attempt to link the narrative of the overall piece and give a glimpse of some of the other artists who have helped shape what might be Thot’s most far-reaching and ambitious release yet.

Opening with Euphrate, the bubbling electronics dance urgently before Fray starts with a breathless crooning before the track transforms into some of the most sleazy, electro-disco funk this side of Pretty Hate Machine. As the drumming becomes more intense and the singing more passionate, the tension ramps up before the teasing lush female vocals in English signal the chorus. Featuring industrial whining and moody, stripped-down quiet parts, the track manages to be a specular mash-up of the sinister and beautiful simultaneously.

Veering off into frantic drumming and an Indie guitar rush, Céphéide features a pulsing bass line and faster vocals (this time in English) which soar with determination and are then juxtaposed with the female chorus in French. With its big pop-rock chorus and nagging, head-banging refrain, the track feels more organic but still retains subtle sprinklings of electronic orchestration.

Sleep Oddity starts feeling like it will be an industrial drone composition but becomes a jazz-like lounge number that showcases the incredible voice of award-winning Czech singer-songwriter Lenka Dusilová, whom Fray met by chance through friends on the road. Over cycling synth melodies, Lenka’s sultry voice rises and falls with the music even as it grows into harder-edged territory. The delicate balance of this mesmerising vocal and the contrast with the darker, fuzzy crunch of the music is a moment of high drama and the horn-like notes sound out for a gloriously big feel at the climax.

Delta is an incredible tour de force of an album…

Setting off with a big rock energy and manic drumming, Bateleur is back to Indie rock that compliments the grungy feel with a funky breakdown where the grooving bass lines make the track bounce and writhe like a gothic nightclub. Once again, not content with giving you a straightforward offering, Thot throw differing tempos and sounds alongside the changing vocal dynamics between male and female, keeping the tension and passion burning to make this captivating, emotional journey one of the heaviest tracks on the album.

Tender strains usher in the woozy anthem that is The Last Solstice before the commanding stamp of the drums and the voices of Bulgarian traditional polyphonic choir Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares chant over an instrumental piece complete with brass, drone and a smokey breakdown that gives the piece an orchestral feel with the lead female vocals offering yet more layers.

The simmering, downtempo Hüzün (Turkish for the space between sorrow and melancholy) continues this theme featuring an incredible performance by Juliette Mauduit that drips with emotion and uses the deeply personal subject matter to address the role of memories in the musical exploration. The bright, driving chords build to a kaleidoscope of sounds from scratched strings, chanting backing vocals and hooks galore.

Blind Streets starts like an air raid siren but is heavily electronic behind Fray’s yearning, insecure vocal lines. This darkness and vulnerability feels like something that Trent Reznor would have produced during the ‘90s and shows that for all the expansive and lofty visions of Thot, it remains at its core a very human endeavour and the pain and triumph in the face of adversity that defines Delta as very real and organic.

The lead single Supercluster is another high-tempo electronic chug after the mellow interlude and bites with an element of acerbic post-rock that finds Fray reverting to French as he spit the lyrics written about the confusion of the world through turmoil. The music seems to wrestle with itself, unsure of which direction to truly embrace, yet manages to shine whether it is honking like jazz refracted through an industrial thresher, skanking like a new wave standard or gliding like a film score.

After the post-punk belligerence of Morning Waltz with its stuttering rhythms, anxiety-ridden lyrics and surreal feeling chord, Thot sign off with the piano-led ballad of Estuaire in which Fray intones with a dream-like, far away narrative that straddles both languages until finally, the rising, nagging gives way to a lone soaring female voice.

Delta is an incredible tour de force of an album and an extremely wide-ranging and importantly fun listen. I guarantee you’ll not hear anything else like it all year.

Label: Pelagic Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden