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Ignea > The Realms of Fire and Death > Reviews
Ignea - The Realms of Fire and Death

Ignea - The Realms of Fire and Death - 95%

Livingwave17, March 18th, 2022

Ignea is a force to be admired. With 2 full albums, an EP and a split release with fellow Ukrainian countrymen Ersedu under their belt, and all released independently since 2016, Ignea is probably the second greatest metal powerhouse of their country after the all too famous Jinjer. Their style has its own unique niche between progressive, alternative and traditional influences from their national mythology and the middle east (at least in my humble evaluation). They are a truly unboxable (it’s a word) band, and that’s exactly what prog snobs like me like, but they are very accessible and catchy as well. Today we’re hopping aboard the DeLorean and taking a trip back to April 2020 to enjoy “The Realms of Fire and Death”, the band’s second full-length release. 

Ignea’s sound is an epic combo of catchy groove riffing style with flowing soothing melodies on top and progressive flavors on the side. Opener “Queen Dies” is already a testament to the band’s super headbangable style of heavy crunching riffs with super clever drums. The guitar lines rely mostly on chugging groovy riffs and open driven harmonies, without solos. Occasional breakdowns or de-tuned riffs make appearances at times as well. The drumming is functional in nature, keeping the foundation of solid grooves going and adding what are probably some of my favorite fills and transitions in metal to spice up the songs. The bass mostly follows the guitar line but also gets the spotlight over verse sections where the guitars go silent, revealing a chunky tasty tone to behold. On top we have the atmospheres, harmonies and buzzy fuzzy (almost industrial) sound effects from the keyboard, bringing both an ethnic feel at times as well as a more electronic edge in other cases creating some super nice tensions and contrasts in the music. It also gives us a flashy over the top solo at the end of “Gods of Fire” and that’s sick.

Vocally Ignea brings the same duality of atmosphere and aggression, with a touch on ethnic feelings. Helle’s vocals alternate screaming and singing as if the two styles were meant to go together all along, despite the stark contrast between her corrosive scream and fairy tale-ish clean voice, and the band has an incredible skill at creating memorable user-friendly melodies for clean vocals. Conceptually the album tells fictitious stories that seem to be best described as “evil fairy tales”. This is much supported by the folky influence in the vocals and some instrumentals. The raw tribal percussion and middle eastern melodies that shine in the ballad “What For” as well as the heavily metalized cover of “Í tokuni” by Eivør are the best instances of this. The added bonus of a song in their native language Ukrainian (second track “Чорне полум'я” which translates as “Black Flame”), which is also offered in an English version at the end of the album is another true highlight of the album, and it also has a super sick breakdown. Overall, the lyrics and vocals are quite confrontationally poetic throughout most of the album, allowing the darker energy of the metal elements to be integrated in the concept and nature of the album.

In my estimate, Ignea’s essence stands in their capacity to make their different contrasting elements work together for the stories and feelings of the music, but to also keep everything catchy and ear-friendly from the first listen. It’s not contrast for the sake of contrast and they only create enough tension to raise an eyebrow, but never to disrupt the flow of the songs. The songs are different from each other, they connect beautifully, and there is no filler. To top it off, the production quality is staggering especially given that this album was self-released. I can only urge you to dare to enter “The Realms of Fire and Death”, and to check out Ignea on YouTube, Spotify, Bandcamp, their website and Patreon.


The Metal Observer

Queen Dies - 79%

Larry6990, June 10th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Independent

I'm very grateful to the previous reviewers below for outlining exactly where the storytelling aspect of this album lies. One of my very few qualms with this record, and with concept records in general, is when the music and narrative either don't line up or are unclear. Ukrainian modern folk/death/groove/symphonic/prog/whateverthefuck metallers Ignea proudly describe this LP as 'a concept album with strong storytelling, metaphors, symbols, and is accompanied by a book of short tales incorporating the lyrics of each song'. I think I need that book because I find myself trying too hard to understand how the music and supposed story relate. I don't wish to get too bogged down in this aspect, but it is something I care about. The structure of an album matters a lot to me. The Realms Of Fire & Death, the Ukrainians' sophomore effort, probably would have scored higher had this not been an issue, because the music on display here is of a high standard indeed.

If you enjoyed their debut, 2017's The Sign Of Faith, then there's no reason not to sink your teeth into Realms.... It's more of the same stuff Ignea do so well: riff-centric, female-fronted, melodic metal with an Eastern tinge and heavy groove. And I mean heavy groove. Considering the imagery and reputation of this quintet, the brutality on display can be surprisingly refreshing. The massive riffs are always my favourite sections and what I look forward to the most. They are more plentiful on this album than the last, as are Helle Bogdanova's harsh vocals. Thus making the more death-oriented, heavy-as-a-rhino's-ballsack songs my personal highlights. Opener "Queen Dies" implies a lot of heaviness and essentially acts as one big crescendo into the sledgehammer that is "Чорне полум'я". With a bulldozer of a main riff and a breakdown weighty enough to melt a horse at the 3:39 mark, it's the cut 'n' dry favourite for me.

Speaking of Helle, her already angelic voice has only gotten smoother in one way, and harsher in another. Her performance is totally in control, and her vicious growls are irresistible - especially on the bouncy "Out Of My Head" (where Dmitry's guitars get super djenty). The symphonic elements have been diluted somewhat since the last LP, in favour of a more synth-laden keyboard approach. The orchestral elements are definitely present, but the top layer of sound would bend this album towards fans of Delain or Amaranthe, rather than Nightwish or After Forever. Ignea's eastern folk elements are what really allow them to carve their own path. They're out in full force on the oh-so-danceable "What For?". As an interlude, this would've been just swell, but it might outstay its welcome just a tad. However, it does lull the audience into a false sense of security before the smackdown of "Gods Of Fire" hits them like a fucking steamroller. What a riff! Though its thrashy outro blows its load too quickly.

Weirdly, I find myself wishing this whole effort were a tad longer. There are a few themes and ideas which seem to be left under-developed, and I think the Ukrainians are more than capable of penning a 10+ minute epic. The album's brevity does result in a catchy effort, with more than a few infectious choruses that you'll find yourself humming unknowingly. Overall, The Realms Of Fire & Death showcases a very talented outfit currently in the middle of an upward curve. It shows immense potential for future releases to be of quite epic proportions, and whets my appetite for a sub-genre of metal I don't venture into that often. Get a hang of the storytelling characteristic, extend some motifs, and the score could shoot up well past 90. Oh, and the cover of Faroese synthpop legend Eiviør is bloody excellent.

Melodic Folk Death Metal of high standards. - 90%

Kritik, May 30th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Independent

A Ukrainian band that decided to follow in the footsteps of the melodic death metal scenes with its own folk influences not too far from "Under the red cloud" or "Circle" from "Amorphis". This was the best way to describe in one sentence what I've just heard in this small release of less than 40 minutes if we don't count the English version of one the songs.

The middle-eastern folk influence can already be heard from the early beginning of the album. Drums and slow guitars not too far from doom metal were the first things I heard in the release. Some sitar was present to put even more emphasis of the middle-eastern influence. The vocals they chose were sung by a female singer. The clean vocals were similar to the singer of Portis Head as they were quite psychedelic while the growls were a strange mix of different kinds of growls.

Some Djent influence makes their appearance in the second track and serve to differentiate the band even further than their peers. Different kinds of drum patterns during the course of the release with some very special keyboards passages added even more variety to this small release that got more and more interesting with each new song.

Another great track was the cover of EIVOR "I tokuni". A very atmospheric track in a language that I wasn't able to identified but was quite the mesmerizing song and clearly fit this release. The album continued on alternating between heavier and calmer moment that balanced each other quite well and kept the attention of the listener high.

The production of release if of the highest standard, not only each instruments were heard quite well during the course of the release, but each different kind of tracks also received a different treatment depending on their styles. To summarise, one could say that the production change which instruments were emphases at the right moments. There was even a pure folk track in there that I will let you discover by yourself.

To conclude, I easily recommend fans of death melodic and even djent to try this release out.

Bright fire - 70%

diogoferreira, April 27th, 2020

Increasingly popular outside their native Ukraine, making an album with fire as the main theme was just a matter of time for Ignea, especially if we consider the name of the band. Thus, "The Realms of Fire and Death" is divided into three stories with the flames plowing the whole lyrical concept.

In the first story we have a queen who is bewitched by a prophecy that predicts that she will be killed by a twin and, therefore, she established a reign of terror, in which cruelty and fire rule. In the second story, a man, who went mad when his lover died, immolates himself. The last part has to do with the gods of fire from different cultures, who offer this destructive power to humanity.

Musically, Ignea keep a rich creativity, even modifying some methods to present a new approach. Although modern metal and oriental influences still exist (“Queen Dies”), the previously used orchestration is often replaced by electronic arrangements, as can be heard in “Чорне Полум'я” through sound artifacts that remind us of breakcore. Other tracks, like "Out of My Head", include notions of djent. Further on, “Too Late To Be Born” gives us a very furious band that leans over black/death metal environments.

Although it's a cohesive, well-executed and extremely well-produced album, we believe that the best songs are at the end, with “Jinnslammer” and “Disenchantment”, due to the captivating richness with which they close the album because of the sparkling and modern keyboards and due to the catchy choruses proving that Helle Bogdanova has evolved considerably over the years as a vocalist, mixing growling and clean vocals.

In addition to the praise given to the vocalist, “The Realms of Fire and Death” has intelligent dynamics that alternate brighter sections with very brutal ones, always preserving a sense of longitudinal melody.