Winter has come and mercifully gone from the East Coast of the United States, but part of its grip still lingers here and there. Frosty nights still occur that leave you rushing to cover your plants and vegetables sprouting outside, and there still is a chance that your car’s windshield can be encased in ice when getting up in the morning.
That feeling also permeates when listening to “Ia’winde,” the first release from Il’ithil that, shockingly, has been sitting on the shelf for a few years. If you want music that can frost over your senses with free-sprawling, atmospheric black metal, this album just might be for you. The past few weeks as I’ve been digesting this thing, I can’t help but feel the chills down my spine that make me feel like I’m at the heart of winter, in the middle of a deep freeze from which there is no escape. In fact, one of the most recent journeys I had with this album was during a warm early spring thunderstorm, and I had to go outside after it was done just to make sure the temperatures hadn’t dipped along with the music. That might seem dramatic, but it’s exactly what I did. It remained warm, to my expectations, but it was overwhelming to be affected that way.
Il’ithil’s creator is a person you might know, that being Blake Green of the mighty Wolvserpent, as well as other projects Mezektet and Aelter (with whom we will visit in a couple of weeks). This outburst of pure savagery and black metal is some of the heaviest music on the man’s resume, and it’s remained dormant after he recorded the music several years ago. Luckily, Psychic Violence is helping solve that issue by releasing the music on LP, giving Green’s followers a chance to hear him at his blackest, and for consumers of this type of music to experience one of the eeriest, most frigid black metal releases you are bound to stumble upon the first half of this year. It’s but two tracks, lasting a little under a half hour, but it’s damn powerful and something I know I’ll keep visiting long into the warmest months of 2015.
“Winter’s Shadow” opens the record, a 13:21 track with a breezy start, like you’re in the center of a forest just as the eye of the storm is approaching. From there, winds whip, melodies that feel steeped in the Middle Ages erupt, and we’re full bore in blizzard mode, with frosty strains of black metal coming down in sheets, enveloping you and the ground below. The guitars are bendy, furious, and relentless, while the vocals, situated into the background, are wild howls that sound like cries of desperation and wails at natural wonder. A strange haze eventually settles in, with the vocals taking on a creaky, echoey essence not unlike Maelfic of Xasthur, and then things go back into swirling chaos. The pace is both harsh and exciting, and in the final moments, a machine-like ambiance emerges that feels thick and oppressive until it finally fades away.
“Through the Cold Grey Sky” runs a clean 14 minutes, and it develops out of the noise rush of the song that preceded it. That mountain of noise eventually meets up with lush synth that adds streaks of beauty and then a burst of black metal melodies that take the momentum from there. The tempo and music are dizzying and infectious, drawing you into their realm and helping you see colors you’ve never imagined before. The song is thick and rich with melodies that add substance to the madness, with the vocals sounding like howls from the distance and keys coming in to achieve a temporary state of calm. A foggy ambiance makes its presence felt along with the glorious hammering going on, and some warped, rushing sounds create sparks behind the thick, unforgiving storm. The song keeps hammering away, never once letting you up, and remains intense all the way until its final notes.
There’s never been any question that Green is a fantastic, diverse musician, and what he creates on “Ia’winde” is one of his most penetrating, vicious to date. But it also keeps in place his penchant for atmosphere and melodies that absolutely lock you inside its chambers to keep you captive forever. Il’ithil might not have seen much sunlight until now, but we’re all lucky enough to bask in these crushing winds and freezing ambitions long after the snow in our parts of the world have passed and given way to warmth. Those icy tentacles are always there to pull you back.
For more on the band, go here: http://wolvserpent.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://psychicviolence.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://psychicviolencerecords.blogspot.com/