Album: The Carpathian Summit
Genre: Post-Black Metal, Progressive Death Metal
Release Date: April 26th, 2019
Post-Black metal has been on the rise in the recent years causing many bands in the scene to become more well known to the mainstream audience; most notably Deafheaven, Alcest, Lantlos, MØL among others. While many artists try to emulate the sound so closely, many don’t try to experiment or try new things to differentiate themselves from their contemporaries. Enter Illyria, a 5 piece post-black metal band from Perth, Australia. Since their titular debut back in 2016, these guys have had my interest and I knew they were capable of breaking the mold and breathing fresh life into the genre. This is where their newest album The Carpathian Summit comes in – set to be released April 26th, 2019. The Carpathian Summit is a grandiose album and massive in scale, with different influences and genre shifts scattered throughout. While so many genre shifts might sound scary in theory, Illyria seamlessly transitions between multiple genres throughout proving they are masters at their songwriting.
Resurgence sets the bar high for the rest of the album, seeing how it incorporates everything fans of the genre could possibly want: has prog math/rock vibes in terms of the guitar work with the blackgaze vocals, even some really unexpected cleans. Really groovy bass also helps set the stage for what is to come on the rest of the album. Wilderness starts off with some groovy bass lines and some vocals very reminiscent of Hopesfall, with some beautifully done tremolo riffing. Shifting in genre yet again, Autumn Fades Away incorporates more acoustic guitars and clean vocals courtesy of Ilijja before the song blows up and includes more of the screams we are accustomed to. Echoflower Pt.1 is definitely difficult to describe: while mostly only an interlude, it incorporates more of a naturey feel to it while having a chant that sounds like it’s come from early Agalloch song. Honestly it sounds more akin to a Neo-folk song than post-black metal one, which is a nice change of pace whereas Echoflower Pt. 2 starts off kind of in a more punk/post-hardcore sound with some emotionally shouted vocals mixed with screams. The second half of the song sounds more of a progressive rock song in terms of the instruments, even including some really nifty piano segments. It’s very funky and reminds me quite a bit of Thank You Scientist. The Second Day of Spring helps rekindle the nature theme that is very prevalent on this album and is very melodic and soothing, taking hints from post-rock bands like MONO or Mogwai, before picking up pace and turning more towards the progressive side, which reminded me of bands like Scale the Summit or Cloudkicker before exploding into the post-black metal sound we were expecting around the four and half minute mark. One of the most memorable moments, minus the title track, is the guitar solo in Swansong, which is absolutely beautiful and well composed. The Carpathian Summit takes all the aforementioned genre fusions and presents itself all in one 14 minute epic, with a very phenomenal horn solo and a very atmospheric sound, which shifts drastically as the epic unfolds to more of a progressive metal feel.
Instrumentally the band is extremely proficient allowing one another to shine without overpowering any other instrument or causing them to be overshadowed. Guitarists Ilija, George, and James help set the mood and provide a dense atmosphere throughout the album, while bassist Daniel helps provide some groove and melody. Drummer Matt has been on my radar since discovering his chaotic hardcore band Statues back in 2015. Throughout the course of the album he proves that not only is he talented, he is also a very proficient drummer capable of playing many different styles with ease. Lastly we go back to Ilija who also provides vocals for the album, which are just phenomenal. Some may find the clean vocals to be weak in comparison to the harsh vocals, however the cleans feel aptly suited conveying a sense of realism and feeling more natural instead of being overly produced. These Perth boys are beyond talented, and this record definitely validates that.
When all is said and done, I personally was awe-inspired by how much these gentlemen have grown as a band since their debut only 3 short years ago. While still relatively new, Illyria prove that they are capable of crafting a spectacular release and breaking the post-black metal mold by creating something utterly unique and hauntingly beautiful. While by no means a “perfect” album, this is one that fans of the genre have been striving to find and is bound to turn heads of both fans and critics alike. Truthfully, the only complaint, albeit very minuscule, that I have with the album is the production is sometimes a little rough around the edges, but by no means does that detract from the listening experience overall. Every song has its own unique feel to it without ever straying from the vision these guys are ultimately trying to convey. If this is any indication of the progression the band is going to make between each album, I am beyond ecstatic to see where they might be going next.
- Autumn Fades Away
- Echo Flower, Pt. 1
- Echo Flower, Pt. 2
- The Second Day Of Spring
- The Carpathian Summit
- The Final Bastion
- Winter’s Wedding
Total Playing Time: 01:10:56