Friday, 6 May 2016

Illusions Dead - Celestial Decadence (2016) / 81%

Death/black metal à la Finn

I used to dig melodic death metal a lot when I was getting into metal, I know I’m not an unique snowflake or anything but I really liked Dark Tranquillity (still do even if their latest two albums were mediocre) and the good stuff of In Flames before they were ruined forever. Nevertheless, this genre is pretty stale and unsurprising these days though, most of the legendary players are either retired, goddamn awful or playing it too safe and the young veterans and newcomers try to mix things up but it doesn’t work well most of the time (I’m looking at you, Ghost Brigade). Finland’s Illusions Dead like many of their compatriots are combining genres but they do it in a compelling and interesting way.

Their music could be described by dividing it into these four main components:

Firstly, the old school death metal aspect of their music is not overshadowed by the presence of dull unctuous and easily marketable by Nuclear Blast melodeath. You can definitely here the influence of proto technical death masters Immolation in the guitar playing of band leader Johannes Katajamäki (who unsurprinsingly wear a shirt of Ross Dolan’s band on his Metal Archives page). His vocal approach is also quite cavernous and would fit the compositions of most pure death metal bands.

2) Secondly, there’s also a large amount of Scandinavian melodic eath metal elements on Illusions Dead’s album. There’s the intensity of At the Gates and they mix mighty riffs with an added melodic flair to them, it’s not exactly melodic death metal per se, I mean it’s not freaking Insomnium and I’m glad they’re not or else I’d be too sleepy to finish this review. It’s death metal that’s melodic, a genre that Argholescent of Intestine Baalism. The guitars stay incicisive but they give a lot of variety to the listeners and it’s all because the parts are well composed and played, there’s no gimmicks here. A good example of the melodic side of the Finns would be the track “Shadow and Flame”

3) Thirdly, there’s some 90s melodic black metal here, it’s not just death metal even if this genre is the predominant ingredient of their metal. It’s hard to pinpoint the influences but it’s there, I don’t see the need to namedrop several other bands here!

4) Finally, being from Finland, they just couldn’t resist the famous melodic death/doom sound and they had to incorporate some of this style into their debut album. The longest song of the record “Revolution (Celestial Spheres)” turns into a mournful affair after a rapid start. It’s a good slow death metal track!
Celestial Decadence is a strong debut album, it shows a high level of musicianship paired with an ear for efficient songwriting and a “less is more” approach.

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