Sparsely appointed and gently played, Burning the Threshold marks a return to the pastoral folk and American Primitive styles for Ben Chasny and his long-tenured Six Organs of Admittance project. Since the early part of the decade, much of Chasny's attention has been devoted to the development and implementation of the hexadic system, a chance-based compositional method involving a set of playing cards which dictates the tonal, rhythmic, chordal, and even lyrical approach of the music. The two albums he released using this method, 2015's Hexadic and Hexadic, Vol. 2, were aesthetic wildcards whose dissonant clamor was at times thrilling, but ultimately difficult to absorb. With Burning the Threshold, Chasny eases back into more traditional structures, delivering a set that is still challenging in minor ways, but quite pleasing in its woody warmth. "Adoration Song," an early highlight, is quietly exaltant with its blend of fingerpicked acoustic guitar, buzzy leads, organ, and rich harmonies. Minor-key instrumental "Reservoir" contains echoes of Pentangle's shadowy twin-guitar jangle while "St. Eustace," another strong instrumental, feels positively bright with its skittering folk-pop meanderings. "Taken by Ascent" is the most overtly band-oriented track here with a droning, fuzzed-out feel and an incessant midtempo propulsion. Chasny's hushed vocals are carefully stacked in places, yet still manage to feel loose and slightly out of bounds, adding to the organic feel throughout. The overall tone of Burning the Threshold is moody and reflective, and Chasny's embrace of more easily digestible song forms makes for one of the most engaging Six Organs releases in years.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger