I would imagine mental health providers are having a hell of a time trying to treat the people who come to them for care. That’s the ones who haven’t been trampled by our medical system, but that’s a story for a different time. I know that I’ve been murky and struggling more than usual, and it’s not a big surprise considering how stressful every new day seems to be.
Trying to find solace within or even be able to get a better sense of self also is a challenge, something that’s at the heart of Izthmi’s stunning debut record “The Arrow of Our Ways.” The record is a concept piece about trying to find inner peace despite the struggles we face every day, most of which we can’t control. The band’s music is based primarily on melodic black metal and riffs that come at you in waves, but there also are elements of noise, ambiance, and darkness that envelop the music and deliver it to the center of your heart. The band—Jakob Keizer (vocals, synths, modulators), Autumn Day and Brett Tomsett (guitars), Gabe Kangas (bass), and Nolan Head (drums)—has been around for about four years now, hailing from Seattle and having just a demo to their credit before this release. But this group sounds far more seasoned and powerful than their years, and this eight-track, nearly 46-minute display should turn tons of heads.
“Chasm” begins sounding like the world’s gravity is weighing down on it and crushing it as keys mix and, and a cosmic treatment is spread, blending into “To Traipse Alone” that immediately floods your senses with melody. Fierce shrieks arrive and bring molten rock with them, but then cleaner guitars blend in and bring calm. That doesn’t last long as things erupt again as grisly vocals punish, with a thunderous assault working its way toward prog-minded soloing. The pace shreds flesh, getting thrashy, while everything then blends into “This Listless World” that trickles in before being ripped apart. Intricate playing sprawls while Keizer’s screams pelt the chest, continually building into an all-out assault. The drums clobber shit, the growls twist, and guitars sicken as things burn into delirium. The vocals drive down hard before things come to a destructive finish. “Interlude” has sounds glimmering and a hypnotic edge before melting into the ground.
“Useless Is the Song of Man, From Throats Calloused by Name” has jarring riffs and floods the scene with its might, as gazey sequences cloud the skies, and the melodies multiply themselves. The track then gets a little more into gritty death terrain, speeding and thrusting before cool winds arrive. Clean chant singing chills the flesh before the power ramps up again, the momentum storms, and the track bleeds into a wall of fog. “A Shout That Bursts Through the Silence of Unmeaning” brings another tidal wave of exuberant melody before acoustics take over and offer a hush, letting your panic subside. Then it’s onto another burst with Keizer’s shrieks ripping through bone and the track soaring into the atmosphere. Guitars sweep while the growls crush rock with the song entering a tornadic sweep before quiet guitars arrive and relieve your wounds. “(The Angels Are Lost)” is a quick instrumental built on a reading of Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, which is heavily recommended, and then it’s into the closing title track that explodes and brings ferocity and turmoil. That playing twists your brain while the music cascades, working into a monstrous pace that tramples away. The tempo stomps and wrenching melodies make their final stand, bringing Keizer’s last gasp of thunderous shrieks before the song ends abruptly.
I feel like a broken record saying this, but our journeys through life seem to get more challenging as these past few years have gone on, watching our social constructs and climate measures collapse. Izthmi’s “The Arrow of Our Ways” is a jarring trip through that, and its rushing power never relents through this record, even when the sounds are quieter and more reserved. This is an album that can pummel you if you just take on the music, but pouring yourself into the entire experience can perhaps ease your trouble a bit as you climb these hills, hopefully not alone.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Izthmi/
To buy the album, go here: https://withinthemindrecords.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: https://withinthemindrecords.bandcamp.com/