Ilsa, Preyer review (Relapse Records 2020)

Washington, DC doom metal masters Ilsa unveil their sixth full-length album, bringing feral certainty to a world of indecision.

The first music of Ilsa’s I heard was Corpse Fortress (2018), well into the history of the band. What a great album. The music is Doom Metal in a very active sense, with no dragging or overdrawn moments. It is intense, and I expected the same from the new one, Preyer. It is all that and more.

“Epigraph” has a voiceover for the entire song where a Satanist discusses killing someone as part of what appears to be an interview. This is about Sean Sellers, a convicted murderer, and the album has this notion as its starting point. The music is heavily distorted and begins in the background. By the end of the song the positions are reversed with the voice becoming more distant and the music taking the forefront. “Poor Devil” is next and it is the first step after launch. The fully formed doom vision of the band is instantly in play and there is no looking back.

The pace is variegated but the filling line is not. The vocals on every track sounds like the world depends on the message getting through. The lead work is penetrating and the rhythm sets solid steel railing. The Punk intentions are plainer on some songs, like “Shibboleth,” and on others, like “Mother of God,” Doom lays it hands on heavy and presses hard. The title song is like a mad monk’s manifesto and the closer, “The Square Coliseum,” slides the stone lid over the sarcophagus of ruin in a final, terminal jolt. The place where solace lives is not accessible from this musical world.

Preyer is out this Friday, November 20th. It is a welcome addition to the band’s burgeoning canon. Recommended.

Band photo by Maire O’Sullivan.


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Ilsa, Preyer review (Relapse Records 2020)

Incantation, Sect Of Vile Divinities review (Relapse Records 2020)

Death Metal legends Incantation return with their eleventh studio album, Sect of Vile Divinities.

It would be hard to overestate the impact Incantation has had on heavy music, and on Death Metal in particular. One of the early entries in the field and among the giants of the New York scene, their first album, Onward to Golgotha (1992), was a pivotal moment in music history. Guitarist John McEntee has been there since the beginning, directing the progression of the band and channeling a path that helped shape the landscape of Death Metal today.

There have been many big albums from veteran bands this year like Testament, Vader, Ozzy, Sepultura, My Dying Bride, Cirith Ungol, and others that were highly anticipated. I am every bit as excited about the new Incantation release because the music on Sect Of Vile Divinities shakes the planet.

We are told in advance that each song on the new album is about a different ancient evil from various places in history around the globe. That sounds like a good place to start and it fits in well with the band’s style and legacy. A good example of a representative song from the set is “Entrails of the Hag Queen,” which has the primary elements of musical creation: heavy decadence, massive riffs, driving percussion, and guttural growls flowing in a thick river darkness. The song slows down and speeds up as the story is told and the theme demands. Some songs are dirge-like throughout, like “Ignis Fatuus.” Others establish a blistering pace at the front and never relent, like “Chant of Formless Dread” and “Fury’s Manifesto.” The song I have listened to the most so far is “Shadow-Blade Masters of Tempest and Maelstrom” because of the way the lead guitar acts like a second voice forming a sinister, twisted duet, and because of the relentless nature of the driving momentum in the rhythm. The closer is “Siege Hive,” and it is an all-out assault on your senses that will make you question your place in the universe. This is a great album.

Out on Relapse Records this Friday, August 21, there are many formats and bundles to choose from that you can grab at the Relapse site or Bandcamp, and the band has their own webstore, too. The new music is as fresh and relevant today as their original work was back then. Highly recommended.


Incantation, Sect Of Vile Divinities review (Relapse Records 2020)