Atmospheric doom maulers Izah unload tons of emotion, power into intense, fiery debut ‘Sistere’

IzahIt’s time to take on some serious heaviness today. We mean that both from a philosophical and outright dosage standpoint. It’s a bulk, industrial-sized mammoth we’re talking about, and if you can handle this record this week, you can handle anything.

Dutch maulers Izah are dropping their massive debut record “Sistere” onto the world, and it’s one hell of a journey to take. It’s emotional, dark, sometimes uplifting, and always effective. And it’s long. We’re talking 72 minutes of tumult packed into just four tracks, so you know you need to invest your time and energy into this thing. It doesn’t let you drop in and sample. This is a full album experience, and to handle it any other way would almost be disrespectful to the music. Plus you really won’t be experiencing this in the right manner by taking on a track here and there. This thing builds from moment one, and by the time the thing finally expires an hour and 12 minutes later, you’re going to be spent.

Izah coverWhile we’re just getting the band’s first record here in 2015, they’ve been together since 2006. The band—vocalist/synth player Sierk Entius, guitarists Roel van Oosterhout, Twan Bastiaansen, and Michel de Jong (who also adds synth), bassist Frans Derhorst, and drummer Tijs van Wegberg—falls into similar territory as ISIS, Neurosis, Cult of Luna and groups of that ilk, and they carry with them the same intensity and penchant for dramatics. They have their cataclysmic highs and their thought-provoking lows, letting you have time in the midst of a volcanic eruption and following that up by taking you through tranquil journeys in cool water.

The album opens with 13:30 “Indefinite Instinct,” which begins with bristling noise, voices crying out in the distance, and off-kilter clean guitars that could make your head feel strange. Then things really open up, with roared vocals that sound hardcore-inspired, a grittier tempo, and heavy, blistering guitars. Later, the track gets dreamy and hazy, with sounds hovering and floating before everything toughens up again and throaty growls return. The back end sizzles out, with whirry keys and foggy sentiment taking everything out. “Duality,” a 15:59 crusher, starts with pure savagery, sludgy and heavy guitars, and roaring that could rupture veins. The cut goes back and forth from vicious to airy, which most of the songs are wont to do, but things really change up when news clips slip into the background, from portions about the Unabomber to bits about man vs. machine. From there it gets thunderous, with melody sliding in to add color, and the fireworks totally blazing.

“Finite Horizon” is the shortest cut at 11:37, and it starts by chugging right away, with an assault that reminds of bit of Helmet, leading into dreamier sequences containing cleaner singing and cloudy sentiments. That switches to a guttural, hardcore-heavy assault, with crazed shouts, bendy and rubbery guitar work, and mathy, mechanical trudging that feels inspired by Godflesh. Calm does rear its head, with melody weaving its way into the fire, and the final minutes toggling between light and dark. The monster 31:02 title cut ends the album, and it’s one hell of a piece. Keys bleed in, with great, emotional playing getting the epic off to the right start, and the growling sound just wrenching. The snowball keeps rolling down the hill, picking up steam and building mass, with the band exploring every aspect of their sound. A rough, violent dialog then works its way in, sounding like a relationship and maybe even lives unraveling, and it’s tough to kick the disturbing sense you’ll feel. The intensity keeps multiplying, with the vocals going back and forth from singing and killer howling, doom horns feeling world toppling, wild wails rising, and noise building up like a death storm. The final 10 minutes are ambient, delicate, and fragile, letting you mix into the background with the record and giving you space to have some easier breaths as the album fades away.

Izah may have taken their time finally putting their first big stake in the ground, but they knew what they were doing and clearly were making sure everything was ready for their formal introduction into the world. “Sistere” is a passionate, raucous experience, and the record that will get inside of you and completely change your demeanor. This is a smothering debut that definitely should put Izah on the map in permanent ink.

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One thought on “Atmospheric doom maulers Izah unload tons of emotion, power into intense, fiery debut ‘Sistere’

  1. Pingback: Album of the Day: Izah - Sistere - Roadburn

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