Yesterday’s installment in our week-long attempt to catch up on album reviews by being atypically brief was a blast of bleak brutality from Contaigeon. Today, we’re swinging the pendulum back over to the more melodic end of the metal spectrum with an unsigned band from Montreal called Erimha, whose music we heard after getting a MySpace friend request from them.
Every band has to start someplace, but some bands (few of them) start fast. With their debut album, Irkalla, Erimha bolts from the starting blocks like they’ve been shot from a gun. Irkalla is an epic blend of melodic black-death metal — dramatic, haunting, memorable, and remarkably assured both in the songwriting and in the execution.
If references help you, the music reminded me at different times of Insomnium, Keep of Kelessin, and even Behemoth. There’s a grim grandeur to the musical style. It achieves dramatic power through its dark melodies without ever veering into cheese, and it manages to retain an icy edge despite its often panoramic sweep. I could be justly accused of excessive enthusiasm over many things, so you may have to take this with a grain of salt, but I’m completely taken over by this music. (more after the jump . . .)
The instrumental playing on the album is first-rate, and the sharp, clear production is plainly what the music demands. Alix (on lead guitar) and Kthien (on rhythm guitar) are more than capable at what they’re doing, achieving a variety of tones, rhythms, and organic solos that fuel the emotional core of the music. (And either someone is adding some subtle keyboards to achieve that epic sound — though no one is credited with keyboards — or those dudes are doing it through guitar effects.)
Lykan (on bass) and Ksaos (on drums) are a match for the guitars in what they contribute. They sound like seasoned pros. The drums are particularly prominent and sharp in the mix, and deservedly so; Ksaos’ sharp, controlled, varied playing contributes greatly to the music’s riveting power.
But despite the impressive instrumental performance, I’ve got to make special mention of Gore‘s vocals, because I’ve rarely heard someone successfully achieve so much variety in an album of extreme metal. His vocals span the range from icy whispers to acidic shrieking to mid-ranged howls to the deepest of hair-raising gutturals — and on the album’s last two tracks (“Travelling Through Irkala” and “Horizon Demise”), he even breaks unexpectedly into clean song (though I didn’t think the clean vocals were as strong as the rest of Gore’s performance).
Those last two tracks aren’t the only songs that blend bestial vocalization with clean song. Alissa White-Gluz, the vocalist from Montreal’s The Agonist, contributes her soprano vocal skills to “The Legend of Erishkigal”, and it’s an interesting combination.
The music sounds like it’s telling a story, and the story appears to be based on Sumerian/Babylonian legends — Irkalla being the hell-like underworld ruled by the goddess Erishkigal, who unleashes vengeance upon men through a merciless army of warrior elite — the Erimha.
Here’s a track that has become one of my favorites on the album:
And lastly, here’s a ReverbNation widget that will let you hear four more of the songs on Irkalla. If you want to get the full range of what that vocalist Gore can do, check out “Travelling Through Irkala”: