For most of us, our introduction to the new album by Iskandr came through a video for the song “Bloeddraad“. It presents a fascinating collage of images, and the music is equally fascinating. It’s the sound of a sinister dream, an embroidery of acoustic chords and ringing guitars, of bestial snarls and flesh-flensing screams, of shimmering synths and eerie, mercurial arpeggios. It includes a slower, spellbinding break near the end that features choral vocals and a feeling of rising, ominous grandeur. And in addition to that, the song has tremendous visceral appeal, thanks to a simple but compelling drum rhythm, accented by bursts of rumbling double-bass.
That was an extremely tantalizing teaser for the new album Vergezicht, but its multi-faceted power was not surprising, given the high standards that this enigmatic Dutch duo had already established through two previous albums and two previous EPs. As tantalizing as “Bloeddraad” is, however, it doesn’t present a complete picture of the experiences that the entire album creates. Vergezicht is, after all, more than an hour long, and it’s that long because the scope of Iskandr’s musical ideas and techniques was wide-ranging. Nor does it represent simply another iteration of the stylistic ingredients of the album that preceded it.
Some sense of this is evident in press materials for the album, which make references to Bathory’s mid-era albums, King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King, the early works of both Enslaved and Hades, as well as Neurosis’ A Sun that Never Sets. Those references are tantalizing in themselves, but also don’t fully capture what Vergezicht presents — and indeed, becoming immersed in the music itself from beginning to end is the only sure way to understand it. Fortunately, you can do that now via the full streaming premiere of the album that we’re presenting in advance of its September 24 release by Eisenwald and Haeresis Noviomagi. Continue reading »