Izegrim: Congress of the Insane

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Izegrim: Congress of the Insane
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Izegrim: Congress of the Insane
Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Listenable Records
November 5th, 2013
Release length: 45:23
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Izegrim is a lesser known Death/Thrash Metal group out of the Netherlands, and one of the most overlooked in the “Women in Metal” category. The band formed back in 1996 under the name Isegrim, changing it around the time of their 1998 Most Evil demo. From that point on, the group had gone through plenty of line-up changes as their undergrounegd discography grew. 2002 saw the self-released debut full-length album Guidelines for Genocide, which was followed up in 2005 with Tribute to Totalitarianism through Rusty Cage Records. The band eventually found a home with Listenable Records in 2011 for Code of Consequences, which found previous vocalist Kristien Dros exiting the band, replaced by former bassist Marloes Voskuil, leaving guitarist Jeroen van Heuvelen the only founding member left. With stability set and time to grow, Izegrim return with their fourth album, Congress of the Insane.


(Stream originally posted at Terrorizer.com.)

When it comes to Izegrim, there are many that will immediately start throwing Arch Enemy comparisons around. In some ways it is justified, as many songs carry a strong Swedish Death Metal melody the band’s earlier material held, but laced with the modern female fronted style they are known for today. It’s an interesting mixture of two eras of the band that coincide with Izegrim‘s own existence and growth over the years. There are differences worth noting though, especially on Congress of the Insane. The material here isn’t one anthem after another, and the guitar solos are not always derived from Classical compositions, instead relying more on melodic emotion than grandiose riffs. It’s also worth noting that Congress of the Insane feels a lot dirtier in the audio at times thanks to the thicker distortion and lack of sleek post-production values.

“Endless Strife” is one of the few that sound a little unoriginal, but carries a remorseful environment. The guitar solos are abundant here, though end up rather short. The main verses have a similar hook-filled formula that leads to a breakdown with matching Classical guitars thrown in against a trudging pace. But then you have the unique carnival freakshow style introduction of “Modern Day Freak,” which kicks up some of the aggression the band is knownm for. Most of the song has a good deal of hostility to it, fueled by some often simpler drums in the snares, and the guitar solo matches the somewhat destitute vibe well enough. This one isn’t the most unique at times, but the raspy screaming definitely gives the pounding segments of the song a little more anger, and even the most melodic of passages some additional commanding edge. “Carnival of Deception” wraps up the album with some familiar melodies, but some bridges become twisted enough to give this one more of an original, oppressive voice from time to time, saving it from being marked as a simple carbon copy.

Much of Congress of the Insane sounds legitimately pissed off, which you’ll notice as soon as it begins. “Relic of the Past” captures the deeper bass presence perfectly to give the somewhat technical Death Metal chords a far more blunt impact than the down-tuned buzzing gives off. The infectious groove is matched with a solid drum rhythm to make it impossible not to bang your head along to, or even cause some madness with the enthusiasm captured throughout the slightly restricted performance that grows with each passing song. “Decline and Fall” builds on that foundation, keeping the same kind of riffs in the main verses, but also throwing some Thrash hooks your way at times that make the violent outbursts of “Celebratory Gunfire” all the more menacing. From here, the anger is laced with tracks that sound more remorseful, or generally hopeless.

“Manifest of a Megalomaniac” doesn’t have the most intricate of material in the main verses, but they’re still catchy enough to stay lodged into your brain even when some of the complex passages that follow kick in. Sadly, the shift does tread into The Black Dahlia Murder territory, though not enough to truly take away from what power the song has. The only other gripe to be had is that it follows one of the album’s strongest tracks, “Carousel of Death.” This performance starts off with lead hooks that are a bit on the eerie side, while the main verses carry a very dark and ominous aura. This seeps right into the infectiously bleak passages, as well as the Hardcore attitude-driven breakdown around the three minute mark to make it one of the more memorable offerings of the album.

Sure, you can find plenty of similarities to other bands in Izegrim outside of the most painfully obvious, but you need to remember this band has existed much longer than their 2011 Listenable Records debut, and have honed their style throughout the years to give them enough of a unique sound to be a nice option for people who enjoy, but more are sick of hearing the same old thing from today’s Melodic Death Metal staples. Congress of the Insane is a gritty, pissed off mixture of aggressive Swedish Death Metal hooks and rebellious Thrash Metal roots that aren’t afraid to throw rebellious Hardcore breakdowns your way just because. Aside bleak landscapes and furious performances, you’ll find a great deal of enthusiasm in the catchy rhythms to make you want to bang your along as much as you will want to come back for repeat spins. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Izegrim before, consider Congress of the Insane a threatening invitation you shouldn’t pass up.

01. Relic of the Past – 4:55
02. Decline and Fall – 4:19
03. Celebratory Gunfire – 4:14
04. Endless Strife – 4:26
05. Deterioration from Perfection – 3:05
06. Unchallenged Dominance – 3:17
07. Modern Day Freak – 4:18
08. The Legion – 3:45
09. Carousel of Death – 4:25
10. Manifest of a Megalomaniac – 3:49
11. Carnival of Deception – 4:50
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Izegrim
Izegrim

Digital review copy of this release provided by Listenable Records via Clawhammer PR.