Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the world has been in a state of turmoil unprecedented in most of our lifespans, and the toll is has taken on us mentally and physically is impossible to measure. We’re going to be climbing out of this shit for years, maybe decades, if we ever do, but we need to be careful not to drown in the sorrows and damage our futures.
That theme is all over “Leaving This World, Leaving It All Behind,” the great second record from Seattle progressive black metal sojourners Izthmi who have suffered along with the rest of us. That’s not just counting a global pandemic but also social and political unrest here and around the world, and the battle for true justice that doesn’t put less advantaged and minorities under fire. There’s plenty of hurt to go around, but we also have a future ahead of us that the lessons we learned can help pace, and there are many reasons to proceed with hope that we can live in a better world. The band—vocalist/modular synth player Jakob Keizer, guitarist/pianist Autumn Day, guitarist/vocalist Brett Tomsett, bassist/pianist Gabe Kangas, drummer/vocalist Nolan Head—use their aggressive playing and spacious creativity to birth an experience that not only is an impressive record but also a journey a listener can take mentally while weighing where one belongs in the world.
“Ever Beneath His Gaze (He Will Drown the World in His Tears)” introduces this adventure with static and noise, whispers swirling through the air, draining into 10:53-long “The Shadows of Our Disillusionment.” Guitars arrive fully engulfed and the vocals shred as a mix of guttural growls and piercing shrieks. The progressive swell is a heavy one, ripping into spacious terrain, the guitars spiraling and rushing with power, eventually letting cleaner tones into the mix. The track slowly picks up momentum, banshee cries get into your bloodstream, and the final moments lightly blend into the earth. “To Know” is built with murky keys and drums striking, increasing the levels of discomfort as we move into 10:08 “The Laughable Semblance of Freedom” that is calm when it dawns. The tempo then pummels and burns, snarling and threatening, an ambitious journey engaged in full. Portions are moody and cloudy, but the blades always slice back through the air, savagery spills, and a heavy gasp of air pushes into the room, jarring melody. The track soars from there, bringing massive highs and numbing playing, ending with a final burst.
“I Bleed With the Wind” lets feedback gnaw on your bones and penetrate your senses, staying only a short minute before we’re into “It’s As If It Were” that’s a full-bore attack drilling right into your chest. The guitars race as the vocals leave abrasions, lurching through fiery madness as the speed increases dangerously. The shrieks assault your mind, the drums mash, and even a quick breath of calm is not enough the salve your wounds before mercy is delivered. “Leaving This World” is the final instrumental piece, and it’s clean and solemn, flowing gently through breezes that whip into closer “Leaving It All Behind” that’s active and crushing when it comes to life. Shrieks maim as the guitars melt metal, the underneath rumbles your guts, and electricity enters your cell structure as things pull back a bit. Some clean vocals change the temperature momentarily and then the barriers crack, the playing devastates concrete boundaries, and the last dose of devastation gives way to gentler flourishes, ending the track in a pool of its own chaos.
Izthmi have a way of making very involved and meticulous music incredibly fun and engaging, helping you anticipate every peak and valley woven into their structure. “Leaving This World, Leaving It All Behind” is a record about all of us for both good and bad reasons, but what we faced and where we’re going is unavoidable, which this music reminds us. This is a record that bursts with energy and emotion and will make you examine and visit all your scars for your own good, even when the waves are rocky.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Izthmi
To buy the album, go here: https://www.satanikroyaltyrecords.com/categories/albums
For more on the label, go here: https://www.satanikroyaltyrecords.com/