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Israthoum - Monument of brimstone re-release - 85%

Phuling, June 14th, 2010

Ok, this didn’t make any sense to me. It’s a Portuguese band on a Finnish label, yet the promo was sent to me from The Netherlands, without any info as to whether or not it was from a promotion agency or something. It wasn’t until I read the promo sheet a little more carefully that I realized the band’s relocated to The Netherlands, and so the return address suddenly made sense. I can’t recall to have heard of Israthoum before, but apparently they formed back in 92, changed name a couple of times (relocated to another country, of course) and have got another album in their repertoire. So I didn’t really know what to expect, but I figured it should at least have potential considering the label behind it.

It’s evident right from the get go that the brand of black metal on Monument of brimstone is a fairly melodic one. The lead guitar carries very effective melodies, pretty much nonstop throughout the album. It’s cause for an atmospheric vibe, which ranges from harsh and cold to dismal and agonized. But despite the melodic touch, which really is damn good, they don’t lose track of brutality. With a semi-clean production it still leaves room for that classic eeriness and hatefulness to play a part. The music comes out intrusive and inviting, both at once. Vocally it brings with it a kind of desperate touch, and I really dig the feeling of it almost breaking out of key, just out of pure woeful agony, but still remaining powerful and commanding. The short and sudden outbursts of clean vocals, or an eerie semi-clean howl, enhances the gloomy and haunting atmosphere to wuthering heights.

It’s like taking the best of Scandinavia’s scene in the 90ies, with a little bit of the atmosphere from Ancient Wisdom (although a lot faster) and a little bit of Vinterland. At times I even think myself to hear a hint of old Unanimated, albeit minus the death metal. But Scandinavia doesn’t really say it all, as they seem to harbour some contemporary European flavor as well, in particular Germany. But whatever geographical area one might think of for comparison it doesn’t bring light to the fact that Israthoum really got me hooked with this first encounter. They have just the right amount of speed without getting out of hand, melody, atmosphere and grimness to produce an album worthy of a place in every black metal fan’s record collection.

Originally written for http://www.mylastchapter.net

Not bad. - 75%

Shadespawn, July 11th, 2009

It's nice to hear that there still are bands out there that try to continue black metal, solely in the "2nd wave" style, which was made popular by such acts as DARKTHRONE, GORGOROTH and others. ISRATHOUM is a band from the Netherlands with a great deal of balls and ambition. Its members seem to be around the scene long enough, since they all have some kind of second project, also focused on black metal, or at least on some form of extreme metal. Now we all know the scene is dying and becoming bland and lifeless as all the pop stuff out there, so let's take a closer look and see why "Monument of Brimstone" is not one of those puppet master tricks.

To start it off, the tone and production, while being quite good and clear for this kind of standard, aren't that awful to listen too, since the overall atmosphere manages to create a very fine aura around it. The haunting atmosphere itself is not only due to the production, but also to the good delivery of the vocalist and the interesting way the songs themselves progress. The tone seemingly drifts into depths, which is probably achieved by the reverb in the guitars, which is just right, so they do not overdo it. The song structures themselves are nothing out of the ordinary, but as beforementioned, they simply fulfil their purpose in creating the exact dark and gloomy atmosphere that one would normally only find in gothic novels.

Now many black metal bands to date are the same generic late 90s bands who hopelessly try to revive the genre that died years ago. I'm not saying ISRATHOUM are the revolutionary force, which has arrived with a vengeance to dig up the graves, but still, they manage to entertain quite well, inducing nostalgia to everybody who knows what black metal was, when it stood tall. The chanting found here is also done right, not too loud and overwhelming, very much in the vein of ENSLAVED, early GEHENNA or even DISSECTION at times. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this cd, if you are looking for a step out of the typical circle of bands and albums, which have achieved legendary status.

The CD is good. The production works. The songs are authentic and inspired. I benchmark it good.

(written for http://www.metal-observer.com/)