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Hope and light exist for Isolert if not for album - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 15th, 2017

No hope, no light ... only death: jeez, what a way to go in naming your debut album! Of course this foursome is not wishing anything bad upon itself - the title is an expression of what the band's preoccupations are: pessimism about humanity's worth, misanthropy, hatred, depression and death. Isolert play very straightforward old-school Scandinavian-influenced melodic black metal, generally minimal in style, medium-fast to fast in pace and sharp, precise and clear in delivery. The musicians might not boast much distinctive in their style of playing or the music that results but they show songwriting flair in the riffs and melodies they create, and they have plenty of energy, creativity and passion in whatever they do. They play as a tight and consistent unit, especially during the faster sections of the album, and also know how to bring in slower or non-BM elements into their work to give it variety, zest and drama.

A dark doomy instrumental introduction leads into the first proper track "Your Hypocrisy" which sets the model for much of the rest of the album: speedy BM dominated by scrabbly guitars and sickly ghastly vocals. The drumming isn't much to write home about: there are sections where blast-beats merely keep clicking that should have featured tom-tom rolls or some fancy snare-drum work. While the fierce guitar riffing, melody aggression and hateful voices compensate for the poor percussion, future albums are going to need a better set of sticks and skins to back the strings when they need a rest from always being in full frontal assault mode.

From one song to the next, there's no pause for rest or contemplation as the band piles on more aggression and hate and thick vocals that start to sound more snuffly, like a bad case of head cold, rather than grim, cold and forbidding. Past the album's halfway mark, "The Dance of Tormented Spirits" slows down Isolert's full-bore attack approach somewhat, at least before the clicking blast-beats start up and drag the music back into its usual hurried tempo. In this track and the next, the music becomes more deranged and frantic.

The title track is the most varied and interesting piece, featuring a long instrumental introduction of doleful piano melody, soothing orchestral drone and background ambience suggesting falling rain that after a couple of minutes is knocked out by melodic BM dominated by throbbing tremolo guitar riffs and those tiresome icky clicky blast-beats. The track does aspire to epic heights in many parts of the music, especially the slower doom-laden instrumental sections or those featuring very melancholy electric guitar bleed. There is some experimentation in the music that suggests Isolert have some ability in knocking out something different from what we'd normally expect of them and the guys should be encouraged to experiment more.

On the whole the album is enjoyable and should appeal to fans of straight-ahead melodic black metal with Scandinavian influences. The band leans in the direction of depressive suicidal music in subject matter at least though the music is perhaps too energetic to fall into the DSBM category. The musicians emphasise riffs and melodies throughout that paper over shortcomings in the percussion. Isolert need to work on developing a distinctive sound and style - and work on the drummer's style especially - that embraces a more alt-mainstream BM approach with elements from DSBM - the result should be very intriguing.