So where to begin? Titles n stuff I guess….
The Album is ‘Code of Consequence’ and the band is Izegrim….
THAT is just about all the easy stuff….
Which leaves the OBVIOUS stuff…..
And the first hurdle.
Izegrim are a Dutch metal band….. with a female singer.
And ‘metal’ is the easy way of saying it.
It could be ‘thrash metal with death leanings’, or maybe ‘death metal with a thrash metal edge’. Either way, the obvious sticker for the CD is ‘for fans of Arch Enemy’. A statement which makes me shiver with disgust – there’s so little female fronted music of any quality that it’s almost obligatory that any newcomer be ghettoised:
Yes – they have a blonde singer, with a pretty decent growl, yes – they play melodic extreme metal, and, yes – the lyrics tend to focus on anti-establishment or anti-religious themes.
So far, so ‘Arch Enemy’.
But – and correct me if I’m wrong here – but that list pretty much describes most extreme metal bands – and if we remove the word ‘blonde’, it describes ALL of them.
For reasons that escape me, women have just as hard a time getting recognition and respect in the world of metal as they do in the real world; so we tend to lump them all together.
Probably for reasons of safety. Although, it’s never been made clear if this is for their safety; or ours. I’m inclined to believe it’s the latter.
Or, it could be because it’s just easier that way, although, we don’t lump Queens of the Stone Age, The Wildhearts and Megadeth together in to the ‘Ginger Haired Singer’ category, do we?
Since we’re capable of keeping track of a myriad of genres and subgenres, all of which shift and change based upon country of origin, I don’t buy that we can’t remember a band if the singer will have a hard time writing in the snow.….
So, forget the gender of the singer, and just concentrate on the growl they can seemingly let fly at will.
I’d better bring this back to Izegrim and their third full length release, ‘Code of Consequence’:
It’s hard to pigeon-hole musically – I reckon there’s a bit of At the Gates but with cut through with Iron Maiden’s sense of melody. But where the Gothenburg thrashers have an oily, mechanical feel to them, Izegrim are harder to describe – it sounds like there’s a constant fight between not only the caustic noise and the melody, but the rough edges and the sleek production.
And this all adds up to a LOT of tension and discomfort – you can NOT sit still to this record.
This sonic battle is constant and unrelenting, and at times it feels like it threatening to overpower the technical ability of the band: but, it’s only occasionally, and even then it’s brief. From incendiary solos to pummelling drum riffs to furious growls, you feel like you’ve been put through a blender.
And there’s a slight problem with this – here, we have NO contrast – it’s all constant brutality.
No lead in. No pause for breath. No sense of ‘Aaaand, Relax’.
After a while you end up looking for a moment of calm – the eye of the storm, if you will – but it never comes. Now while that level of unrelenting passion and fury MAY ring some people’s bells (Slayer fans I’m looking at you here), I was left feeling a bit numb by the end of it.
Lyrically, there’s a lot of anger on display – though where it’s directed is another matter. There does appear (and I’ll stress the ambiguity here) to be some anti-islamic sentiment, but I could be drawing more from the lyrics than I really need to – if you’re angry, chances are you can relate to the sentiment, if not the content.
And, while we’re not exactly talking Skrewdriver here, the more you dwell on the idea of criticising a religion other than Christianity, the less comfortable you get about it. Which, if nothing else makes you question why Christianity IS such an acceptable target. But, it’s not the sole focus, just an intriguing point. And one that is made more interesting when made with a feminine rage behind it.
The cover art is also (wilfully) ambiguous.
A shadowy figure and a burning city. But, is the figure walking to, or away from the flames. Do Izegrim see themselves as the sonic arsonists setting the world ablaze? Or is the world already on fire, and they’re taking us closer for a better look?
Overall, ‘Code of Consequence’ is a solid blast of intense (semi)melodic-death-metal. In a live setting the tracks will kill, on record, they’ll blow your headphones or annoy your neighbours. But, as I said before, I can’t guarantee you’ll listen to it too many times from start to finish, but if a track comes on at random – it’ll stay on.
Code of Consequence is released 28th February on Listenable Records