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Issolei – Cilicium

issolei – cilicium


Unconventional was the term used earlier to describe pretty much everything about Issolei. Fascinating would be another. While the `Devouring Current’ EP’s spent a lot of time disorienting the listener, only to bring touches of logic back into the music as it progressed, follow-up `Cilicium’ undoes all this gained clarity. Recorded three years after the EP’s, the first full length album takes the sound of the previous releases and tones down most of the dissonance and the acoustic guitar parts that made the EP’s rather unique. The question is: is that a bad thing?

The answer is: no, it’s not. The `Devouring Current’ EP’s were intriguing experiences but required a lot of attention from the listener to fully absorb and comprehend. From the first notes of `Destroyers’ it immediately becomes clear that `Cilicium’ is rather a darker beast. What has remained is the creative drums and the prominent bass sound, but the production sounds deeper, and there is more emphasis on the distorted guitar. Where contrasting acoustic guitars prominently featured on the EP’s, the role has been turned more to the background. While that sounds more conventional, Issolei still adds a large dose of dissonance to their Black Metal. Aforementioned opener `Destroyers’ has an ominous undertone that crawls under your skin, and contrarian drums create continuous tension in the music. A comparison with Deathspell Omega is probably more justified than ever, but Issolei remains a unique entity despite a less disorienting and distressing nature than before. A track like `The Awakening’ even has a stronger emphasis on melancholy, though the melody is restrained and subcutaneous. `Ascension’ is a track full of highlights: subtle changes in a slower guitar riff set the tone, vocals bellowed over minimal instrumentation create contrast while the song progressively grows more dissonant and plays with the unsettling feeling that the pace has to go up at any time, yet it keeps the listener hanging in suspension. While the `Devouring Current’ EP’s slowly shed some dissonant elements as they progressed, `Cilicium’ walks the inverse path, and reaches it most chaotic tracks with `Delusional Thoughts’ and `King Apophis’. Still, those aren’t nearly as unnerving as on the preceding releases and are instead darker in atmosphere. Closing track `Convergence’ shows a side of Issolei which hasn’t revealed itself much thus far, effectively turning to a more repetitive style of Black Metal with only minimal changes.

And thus, quite impressively, the band manages to remain unpredictable. Issolei simultaneously releasing `Devouring Current, Pt. 1: Crystalline Fractures’, `Devouring Current, Pt. 2: Treacherous Ascent’ and `Cilicium’ all at once sounded unconventional and insane… yet somehow it all starts to makes sense now.

Terratur Possessions

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