Label: Signal Rex
A common point I make in my reviews is that progression for its own sake is pointless. There has to be some reason and purpose behind any attempts at the pushing of boundaries, otherwise it’s just an exercise of artistic masturbation. So, when I come across a forward-thinking record that impresses me, you can be sure that it’s not simply because I’m in awe of its supposedly progressive qualities. This should be kept in mind during the review of Englighten‘s latest 7″, Illvmantithesis. The “Black Death Metal Chaos” duo impressed last year with their Phösphorvs Paramovnt EP, which was possessed of an other-worldly power, and this new release is just as impressive – if not more so. It’s a dark delight to hear a band produce music that is simultaneously so forward-thinking, leading the way for those who would follow musically; but also full of such blasphemous spirit. In short, this is something special.
Despite only containing two tracks, Illvmantithesis contains more ideas and moments of genius than most bands could manage in a lifetime. A side track “Pallor” begins with guitar and basslines that feel somehow wrong, as if they’re intentionally misplaying familiar scales or leaving their instruments so-slightly off-tune, making for a haunting, tension-building introduction. This gives way to punishing violence, with hammering drums and powerful, dominating vocals atop razor-sharp melodies and whirlwind riffs. Even then, it doesn’t sit still for long, soon moving in to a more mid-tempo section featuring a guitar melody and basslines that will make your head spin. The genius of the track is that there’s enough there that is familiar, ensuring the more forward-thinking elements are all the more notable and stronger. Yet even if you don’t care about the way Enlighten lead the way forward musically, their honesty and spirit is undeniable, and sure to win you over.
B side track “Shroud” opens in an even more unusual manner than “Pallor”. The melodies and sparse rhythm section work are almost gentle and soothing, were it not for the darkness they so clearly hold, even if it is kept just out of sight. The track gradually shifts in to something more recognisable as blackened death metal, but still keeps that odd, almost religious atmosphere. It’s the kind of mood and sound a hundred bands might attempt, but few would have the skill and conviction to succeed as Enlighten do. What’s even more remarkable is that the band keep the track undeniably metal, rather than drifting off in to some self-indulgent artistic haze. The viciousness and raw power of Enlighten is never in doubt, and nor is their creativity; two very difficult things to wed together, yet the duo do so with rare skill.
As with Phösphorvs Paramovnt, the sense of the other is never far away during Illvmantithesis, and when combined with the band’s forward-thinking, blasphemous take on metal, it makes the 7″ practically mandatory listening for anyone interested in where underground metal might be going; or for those who simply want some quality blackened death. On the evidence presented, if these guys ever release a full-length, then it’s sure to put the vast majority of other bands to shame. In the meantime, I’m sure Illvmantithesis will be getting a lot of plays from those fortunate enough to be touched by its darkness.
Illvmantithesis is set for release on June 15 2016, and can be streamed, downloaded, and purchased on 7″ (limited to 250 copies) via Bandcamp.