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Dubbing themselves Nuklear Rock 'n' Roll, Poland's Iblis this year releases their debut full length album, Menthell. The band's quirky logo and album artwork all point towards a record that promises to be fun and entertaining at the same time, while remaining somewhat psychedelic, and stands apart from the typical blasphemous themes that their fellow countrymen tend to indulge themselves in.
While album opener White Claudia starts off with a fairly typical Norwegian black metal-inspired riff, it doesn't take long before the band presents listeners with their unique style of metal, and this is most evident through the vocal delivery, atypical of the usual shrieks that one would expect from a black metal band. Rather, vocalist Zgred utilises a wide range of vocal styles to relate the emotions and insanity that is in the music to the listener, ranging from tortured shrieks and cries to clean singing, and those that are used as background sounds are particularly haunting, sending chills down the listener's spine. These are consistently present as the album progresses, and pushes the limits of one's sanity as they really mess with the listener's head and focus.
Apart from the clean vocals that are usually used that contrasts with the black metal riffing, the avant-garde elements also come in the form of the sound effects that are used by the band throughout, creating a somewhat vertigo effect on the listener, like on White Claudia. The contrasting clean vocals and blasting black metal segments bring to mind bands like Blood Revolt who have also successfully executed such styles, though in a more extreme and aggressive war-metal fashion. In addition, 12 Sycamores see the band including some fun segments with the catchy rhythm of the music. There are even progressive elements that are spotted on the album, like on Poison in Your Food, with the time signature reminding one of the style that Opeth played on albums like Deliverance, only this time it's with a more black metal touch.
Furthermore, the lines of bassist Traktor are clearly heard throughout, and the instrument acts as a separate lead instrument on its own, rather than simply taking the back seat as a rhythmic instrument. His ability on the instrument are clear from the numerous ingenious licks that are inserted throughout the album, such as on the intro of 12 Sycamores, and is made even more impressionable with the punchy tone of the guitars, somewhat reminiscent of that of Meshuggah. To make the experience even more remarkable, the band's lyrical themes are also rather entertaining, with songs like Poison in Your Food and Don't Eat My Legs sounding rather tongue-in-cheek and displays the band's sense of humour.
With the metal industry being so saturated with bands of the various genres, having a band like Iblis is way overdue, and Menthell has certainly managed to stand apart from the rest of the black metal releases of late, and is an interesting and engaging album.