The second album from California’s dark dreamgaze trio Illudium extends and embellishes the ideas of its predecessor.
Illudium is fronted by Shantel Amundson (guitar, vocals, synth), with Gregory Wesenfeld on drums and Josef Hossain-Kay on bass. Their first album, Septem, came out five years ago. The new album “was born in the fiery pandemonium of the burning season of 2020 when huge tracts of the sunshine state went up in flames, while skies glowed orange at night.” You can hear the creative destruction in the compositions as they demonstrate both clashing bursts and gradual progressions as a path for change.
Ash of the Womb is a six-track set of thoughtful ruminations, reflections, and explorations. Shantel Amundson’s voice is beautiful, filled with emotion and power. Her tone and delivery match the sentiment of the accompanying instruments at every turn and from the very beginning, with “Aster.” Shades of Tori Amos can be heard from time to time, tinging Amundson’s unique vocal delivery. Heavy guitar riffs push in over quieter acoustic layers only to retreat and live on as memories and echoes later in the songs and after the music has ended.
Every track has both heavy and lighter moments. On songs like “Madrigal,” the metal entry strains the continuum against the light and lyrical alternate expression. Elsewhere the transitions are more linear. Sounds of nature open for a couple of the songs, providing an elemental grounding from which the music grows.
“Where Death and Dreams Do Manifest” is the capstone and can serve as a sort of summary statement. I hesitate to declare a favorite because each song, while being self-contained, also is an essential and integral part of the whole. The album is an ethereal, melancholy and also insistent musical ecosystem in the macro sense, as well as in all its individual micro pieces. Recommended.
Ash of the Womb comes out on Friday, October 15th through Prophecy Productions. Bandcamp has the digital, too.
Prophecy Productions, https://us.prophecy.de/artists/illudium/illudium-ash-of-the-womb.html