Isolert – No Hope, No Light…Only Death (Ogmios Underground)

isolert

Besides the genre’s name, there are albums of the black metal variety, that are not prone to being transmitters of utter-darkness soundscapes. Even some of the 90s masters’ albums are testimonies of this; for in albums such as “Battles In The North” or “Frost” darkness is a distant second entity being evoked, majestic frigidness being by far more dominant. The cold, unforgiving yet filled with unparalleled majesty side of Nature is an essential part of the black metal multifaceted entity. That is where lie the banners of Greece’s Isolert, a band that firstly appeared roughly a year before, with the “Isolated Soul” demo. Reviewing that short release  I had concluded that “it is a somewhat rushed release, that nevertheless creates promises about the future.” Luckily, it seems that these promises are more or less fulfilled with the band’s debut album, “No Hope, No Light…Only Death,” released earlier in 2016.

What becomes apparent from almost the beginning is that Isolert have a thing for melody, mainly of the icy quality, not unlike that of the mid-/late-90s Swedish scene. But, as it was also the case in “Isolated Soul” the Scandinavian influence is filtered through a Greek prism; what comes to mind is Naer Mataron’s first period – a fine tutor, to say the least. Guitars make long-winded appearances, zealously emphasizing the atmospheric parts of most riffs – passion is a thing to be reckoned in here. A passion, traces of which can also be found in the definitely improved (in comparison to the demo) vocals, which traverse the spectrum demarcated by the growling core hues and the clean, almost epic clamours and narration. Yet, despite all the melody talk, the band also knows how to incorporate some thrashy and hyperblasting inferno in their music. Structure-wise things are not overly complex, yet this simplicity is quite effective from an atmospheric point of view. Speed varies, from mid-tempo clarity to blastbeat exaltation. The production is typical for this kind of sound, grim and clear – nothing spectacular.

Isolert kicks off its formal discography with a very good album, steeped in the genre’s tradition. It may have a few shortcomings – namely lack of innovation (if such things are of concern in black metal) and some variance in the composition quality department – yet it is a much too enjoyable (and even nostalgic) an album to be shadowed by them. The band sports a much more polished and well-structured facade in comparison to their last year demo, bringing into fruition the past promises.

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Isolert – Isolated Soul demo review

isolert

Isolert is a hatchling (duo) band coming from Volos, Greece, and “Isolated Soul” is their first demo release, independently (and only digitally) released. Quite short in duration (clocking just over 12 minutes), the release consists of 3 tracks, while the cover art is quite minimal and naturalistic. It seems that the band was formed in 2015, so one can surmise that a release in such a short notice will be a bit rushed, a half-truth for the demo in question.

The band’s music tends towards the Norwegian classic-era sound, slightly filtered through a Greek-scene lens. Essentially melodic guitar riffs, not avert to sporadically integrating a heavy metal attitude, are framed by a quite audible bass guitar and typical but satisfactory drum patterns. Vocals are double-edged blade – the default black metal shrieks that dominate most of the demo are quite overdone in their quest for rawness and echo; they are too prominent on the mix, ending up flat and unconvincing. On the contrary, some attempts on alternative and clean vocalisation was a positive surprise. Composition-wise the band is not highly original (the second track, “Empty Memory (Hate for Mankind)”, is possibly the album’s best, but there are parts of it quite reminiscent of Naer Mataron’s “Diastric Fields of War”) but nevertheless succeeds in capturing the listener’s attention, by not using overdone compositional formulas. Quite a nice touch is the instrumental ambience that permeates certain album parts, creating a ghostly atmosphere (check Empty Memory’s middle part and the haunting finale of “Isolated Soul”).

Isolert’s “Isolated Soul” is a somewhat rushed release, that nevertheless creates promises about the future. With a bit more attention on the mixing and a certain amount of change on the vocal course, Isolert can output a solid full-length; the seeds exist within the demo, waiting to be nurtured.