ILSA Review

They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover but in the case of Ilsa the cover of “Intoxicantations” tells a whole lot about what’s to come.  A tiger with a tab of LSD on it’s tongue, a tangle of weeds, skulls, eyes, and centipedes, lines being cut, a free-based tooth.  Horrific, intoxicant soaked doomed out death metal that’s equal parts brutal as it is mind-altering.  Following up 2010’s excellent debut record, Tutti il Colori del Buio Ilsa return with another crusted out attack on sobriety.  Intoxicantations is a lengthy record, over 10 tracks ranging from two minute bursts of rage to six plus minutes of punishing doom.  The introduction sets the stage perfectly.  Ominous, martial drumming with strangled ambiance merges with panicked descriptions of drug use and the occult, merging with the opening track “Foreign Lander”.  Crusty riffing, d-beat drums, and Orion’s furious vocal delivery make up the backbone of this record.  There is something particularly punishing about Ilsa’s brand of death/doom, and Intoxicantations dials it up a notch.  The sludged out guitar and and abyssal drumming provide an oppressive, funereal atmosphere to this record.

[audio: Say You Love Satan.mp3|titles=ILSA – Say You Love Satan]

The eponymous track, “Intoxicantations” is pure doom.  Serving as a powerful contrast to the slowed down riffing, the drumming on this track, and record as a whole, is something to behold.  Bursts of double bass drop in when necessary then dissipate into ethereal cymbal crashes, never overwhelming, but always there, pressing on your chest. Paeans to drugs and satan make up the core of this records lyrics. It’s wild, hallucinatory imagery that fits well with the death-tinged atmosphere.  The next track, “Deadbeat’s Ballad” takes on a more traditional heavy metal tone, something that happens a few times on this record, invoking bands like Red Fang or Howl.  Buried gang vocals are the first thing you’ll notice about this track.  “Deadbeat’s Ballard” is high energy even when the listener is being buried under the massive riffing and wild drumming, ultimately leading to a massive conclusion.

“Man-Made Monsters” opens with a classic death metal riff.  If Deadbeat’s Ballard” was the most heavy metal moment on this record, then “Man-Made Monsters” is clearly the death metal counterpart. Driven by a serpentine death metal riff, this track brings to mind Anhedonist and Hooded Menace, two bands who have been doing incredible things in the death/doom genre. Ending with a death metal solo that will bore into your brain for days, “Man-Made Monsters” is giving Hooded Menace’s “Creeping Insanity” a run for best death/doom song this year. Next up is perfectly titled “Say You Love Satan”. Orion’s vocals are pushed to their limit in this song, a raspy howl that complements the juggernaut riff setting this beast in motion.

Late album highlight “Martyrs” is one of the shortest tracks, an insane punk attack in the vein of Eyehategod that descends into near total thrashing chaos.  The album closer “Skin and Bones” is a dirgey slab of pure doom.  Orion’s vocals are at their most tortured here, a howl from the grave that sounds like it could give out at any moment.  Building on the pure doom intro, “Skin and Bones” flows into an utterly spine-chilling solo then back into skullcrushing doom riffing.  This ability to flow between genres is a hallmark of this record, and “Skin and Bones” nails it. Appropriately, this record ends on the bleating of air-raid sirens, as if to remind the listener that the worst is yet to come.

Intoxicantations is about as perfect as you can get with doomed out death metal.  Slow, sinister, and smoked out, Intoxicantations is available to order through A398 Recordings, shipping on Halloween.  Fully endorsed for fans of anything heavy and evil.