It seems the lines between Black and Death Metal have blurred yet again. To call Itheist a Blackened Death Metal band, though, seems like it would be sending the wrong message. One might mistakenly pigeonhole the band as sounding like any number of more mainstream acts without grasping the true charm inherent within this debut full-length. There are indeed elements from both corners of the spectrum, but they are specific and not genre-wide. Itheist is a unique creation full of extravagant personality and exceedingly independent.
Itheist is a band currently without a label; however, as this independent release makes its rounds among listeners, it is highly doubtful this situation will persist. For a debut, let alone an independent one, this has the sheen of a polished act that have drilled their art meticulously in its creation. Indeed, the band have a confident resolve with which they stand – upright, militantly saluting infernal darkness.
As the album begins, “Outcast” serves as the band proverbially setting the table. Beginning with a staunch mid-pace and laced with powerful angular riffs, the track is like a preview of things to come. Before one can become complacently comfortable with the slower pace, the band speeds things up showing their penchant for true Black Metal. As the album progresses, a sort of tug of war ensues between varying tempos. This diversity ultimately benefits the whole of the music for as soon as one believes to be capable of guessing the next shift, the ears are undoubtedly surprised.
There is a palpable, protracted darkness that runs throughout. It is a shade darker and more piercing than one comes to expect with many of the bigger names in Extreme Metal. Atmosphere is the means by which the ears become gradually, yet methodically enslaved to Itheist’s bidding.
This entangling atmosphere is achieved via rich instrumentation. A music teacher once monumentally said that one must know the rules in order to know which to break. That philosophy can be applied throughout the course of this album. A massive amount of layering composes the songs as can be heard in tracks like the fourth, “Belial Unbound”. While one guitar track plays a decadently minor arpeggio, another will play something much lower or higher and perhaps slightly shifted from the tonal root. It is the intersection of these tracks that offers intrigue for while one may at one moment expect a resolution, the ears are instead met with twisted dissonance. Needless to say, this is devoid of the pretty, melodic tremolo picking and sped-up Iron Maiden riffs that have proliferated many established names’ catalogs over the years. There are shocking moments, though, such as the lushly poignant solo during the fifth track, “Horned One”. One can hear a stark Carcass influence in the approach to the leads.
There is a blackened legacy that this band have now started. Many of these malevolent passages burn themselves deeply into the soul where their echoes can be heard for long after. It is truly a unique DNA that comprises Itheist’s music. At times, the bass hits as hard as the bludgeoning lines from classic Godflesh. One can also hear elements of Akercocke in the wild ride of varied arrangements manifesting themselves in myriad key changes, tempo shifts, and mood swings. The sinister Black Metal influence of early Blut Aus Nord rings through as well as the rebellious original creativity of a band/project such as Leviathan. Itheist definitely have made a marked impression and their future should be one to look to for both inspiration and musical satisfaction. Well done!