Saturday, November 17, 2012

Israthoum - Black Poison And Shared Wounds

Israthoum's "Black Poison and Shared Wounds" is a pretty killer record from the start. The band reminds me of a more aggressive Primordial, or a less militant Marduk or something in the middle of those. The songs are not overly long which, for me, is very refreshing from all the more recent black metal albums that have passed my desk having songs almost all over the five minute bar and are more commonly around six or seven minute marathons. Here, the longest track grazes the five and a half minute mark and four minute tracks are in greater supply. I appreciate the band's more traditional approach of average length tracks as opposed to longer, more involved pieces which take more listens to appreciate and are more absorbable on first listen while leaving some lengthier tracks for later consumption. Maybe I have a hint of ADD or something, I don't know, but I feel as if Israthoum have crafted the songs to carry the immediacy of their message, and are more concerned with that than playing into the black metal typicality of a lot of bands these days. I'm sure a band that's been around since 1991 or 1992 like Israthoum has no interest in following trends and molds.

Israthoum, across the album, present some extremely memorable tracks such as "The Unravelling Traveller", "The Presence, The Baying" and "Procession of Demented." Here they excel at combining haunting, image evoking melodies and aggressive rhythmic primitiveness. It is no surprise that two of these appear as samplers for prospective buyers. At the same time, there are some tracks which don't exactly wow such as Devil Bacchus and Burning the Sephiroth, the latter of which drags slightly through what could be some memorable parts if expanded and the former, a track very much built to be a "standout" track as evidenced by it's placement, Arvath's choice of percussion variety and the inclusion of well placed breaks. Longest track, "A Birthmark of Unexistence" is very good until the final forty seconds. No real need for the riff plugged in at the end there. The album ends strong with "Procession of Demented" and "Eradication Psalm," two of the stronger tracks. Procession of Demented which borrows from Watain in some respects is a clear high point of the album and "Eradication Psalm" may have been inspired by Akercocke's Chronzon or "Shelter From The Sand" off Words That Go Unspoken; this has some of the more interesting arrangements on the album, even if it ends haphazardly to finish off the release.

Highlighting the album is the obvious focal point the vocals. Not only are they very noticeable on the album and given plenty of room in the mix, but they separate Israthoum from many other black metal projects in my eyes. They are not the high pitched screeches or hissing snake tongue vocals. Instead bellowing and urgent commands are hurled at the listener with a confidence only the insane could deliver. Often times, vocals can be an afterthought or a non-issue with black metal but this is an example of a slightly different approach, perhaps a more 'pop' approach in terms of mixing, in that the vocals are such a highlighted instrument. In this case where, as Arvath has said in interviews that the band's message needs to be "expelled and injected into
the world,"(1) the prominence of the vocals and lyrics makes the album seem more afflatus than your everyday black metal album's themes.

Like a lot of the material coming from Daemon Worship Productions, this is no less polished, with excellent overall presentation that would appeal to practically anyone interested in black metal while at the same time retaining enough of the grit to win over more veteran listeners yearning for something with more underground persona. The artwork is very vivid, lively and interesting and fits well with the music presented which is sharp and defined. Being an online promotional copy, I can't speak to some of the finer points of the production but I expect it would be very much of the quality elsewhere on "Black Poison and Shared Wounds."

(1):  Forbidden Magazine interview 2012

No comments: