May 052023

We live in a world where engaging with strangers we don’t have to engage with is a risky endeavor. Wariness is an important self-protective instinct, even though it might prevent engagements that would turn out to be felicitous. Hell, here in the U.S. for example it seems that rubbing some stranger the wrong way could lead to gunfire.

Fortunately, the rules of engagement when it comes to new music are very different. Encountering strangers is actually something desirable, at least around this site, because it can lead to very welcome surprises, even if it may also lead to disappointment.

Case in point: Today we welcome ISUA to our pages for the first time. Getting to know their music has been a captivating experience — even though it has also led to destruction.

These Australians did release a debut EP in 2021, but we overlooked it (our loss, definitely). And so the first single from their forthcoming debut album Abandon was a first encounter. That single, “Life’s Worth“, is an enormous attention-grabber. Look first at the lyrics:

Sky above, ocean below
Carry the weight, suffer the load
Idle hands keep throwing stones
Things fall apart, we all know that
Demons may drift inside our heads
They’ll get to you until your dead
Until the ground beneath us

The hive was kicked long ago
The swarm inside our heads
Rages on and on

Evocative words, but the music is even more powerfully evocative. The fast, rumbling drumwork and craggy, clawing bass emanations seize attention damned fast. As the band layer in additional ingredients, including thick fuzz-bombed riffage and torrid screams, the mood becomes increasingly distraught and turbulent — and it’s as heavy as Hell come to earth.

But that’s just one of the song’s phases. The sonic earthquake takes a pause (the rhythm section continue grabbing attention, just less destructively), brittle notes ring and reverberate, and a woozy guitar solo slithers and wails.

The song gradually becomes a massive heaving and stomping beast again, cracking the ground as it goes. The music may heave your body too, driving you into a lurch, even as a quivering and warbling lead guitar pours psychoactive substances into your ears, creating a hypnotic seduction while everything else crushes.

And now we encounter, along with you, ISUA‘s second single from Abandon. Let’s again look first at the lyrics to “Departure“:

Every creature will taste
Almost certain death
And yet they will still
Mock your corpse
When that light goes out
It will never turn back on again

This time, as we listen we also get to watch the band in a black-and-white video, filmed live by Photoyunist at the Gasometer Hotel last July.

Unlike the first single, “Departure” begins slowly and softly, but its simple notes very quickly create a mood of loneliness and gloom. It’s a disturbing kind of lull, but based on the first single, you know things are going to get monumentally more heavy — and they do.

The band inflict savage hammer blows, widely spaced at first, like a vicious pulse, and then they begin moving like some massive black freight train belching toxic smoke. That’s when your body will feel the need to lurch again. But the discomfort doesn’t disappear. Those wrenching screams and the groan and wail of the heavily distorted instruments ensure that. Piercing through, the lead guitar itself screams in despair.

The grooves are primitive and hard enough to split concrete, but become mesmerizing as well. You might not immediately notice as you fall into a giant sinkhole that the music has opened beneath your feet.

At this point you don’t need any genre labels. Another band already seized the moniker “caveman battle doom”, so we can’t use that one, even though it fits some elements of what ISUA are doing. Maybe something like “spellbinding sludge/doom obliteration”? We’ll have to keep working on this….

Abandon was recorded live at Beveridge Rd Studios, Silvan. It was engineered and mixed by Mike Deslandes, and mastered by Dav Byrne at Iridium Audio. Credit for the haunting cover photography goes to Alex Meagher.

Abandon has been set for release on June 2nd via Crucible. It will be available on 12″ black and clear vinyl, and digitally. More info is available through the links below.

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