October 9th, 2011
Release length: 48:27
Death Calls the Islands is a surprisingly crisp and digital recording that still manages to feed into a glorious or melancholic atmosphere. The guitars have a good mid-range distortion to them that suits the typical Black Metal sound, but they come off quite rich and heavy instead of sharp and poisonous. This may seem like a let down, but given the recurring theme of the album it works out perfectly. The bass guitar that backs them up is pretty loud, but doesn’t dominate anything, instead adding another deeper layer to the group’s sound. The drumming stands its own nicely as well, having a tight and echo driven sound to the snares and a rich, natural output from the cymbals that vary in volume. The bass kicks have a very strong click that does rip through everything else, but not at an obnoxious level. The vocals are the standard rhasp-fueled approach, but come off a bit more eccentric for a Depressive Black Metal approach. They also have plenty of enthusiasm to match the energy the band gives off in each of their contributions.
As mentioned, there’s plenty of variety through the album, though the band manages to weave it all into one distinctive sound. Yes, there’s a larger Depressive Black Metal tone that encompasses most of the release, but you also get Ambient pieces such as the interlude track “E-C-T,” which is largely just static in a subtle rhythmic pattern. There’s also “The Blood Wave,” which carries the same kind of static, but it grows more important as the track carries on. The slower pace kicks in with the guitars and drums offering some nautic atmosphere suiting the island based concepts of the release, and it eventually gives way to the static and some electronic input, along with some spoken word radio-style transmissions that give it a slight astral touch. This is easily the best of the two, and pretty impressive. Sadly, thiseame thing can’t be said for “The Rats Resiat.” The music seems to have a bit of an Italian root to the clean acoustic chords, and that’s the best aspect of this. There are thicker areas with vocals that push the crazier approach a bit too far with falsetto style wails that are restrained, giving it a brush with insanity, though ending up illfiting to the tone of the album, as well as just drug out a little too long.
There’s also “Dr. Creve,” which spirals you into more of a Pagan or Viking Black Metal approach. The clean singing comes off more like chanting of the harsher vocals, and the music that adorns these sections carries a distinctive glorious vibe that the constantly shifting between slower and blast beat verses lack. This really is one of the most memorable tracks off the recording next to “The Blood Wave.” The singing does come back during “Death Calls the Islands,” but here it isn’t quite as effective as the previous song. Instead, it seems to usher in a bit of a Sludge Metal influence to everything, but not one that makes it stick out. The track has a medium pace with some really catchy riffs, especially in the chorus, a stark contrast for the desolate and depressive tone that “The Dogs Smell Blood” establishes at the start. The nautic sense is still there in some of the later passages, but they are mixed in well with the further distant and echoed vocals. This is the first to introduce clean singing, but it’s very rare when it occurs. This is also the longest track on the album, but it remains strong from the simple guitar chords at the beginning that only come out the left speaker, until its perfectly fitting Ambient end.
Memoria have recorded a very interesting album. While this does go off in various directions, it all comes back to a dismal nautic sound, as well as lyrical structure that become the a subtle theme. Most of the songs are well executed and the performances are tight with plenty of energy. It’s obvious that great care was put into this album on all levels, and anyone who listens to Black Metal that wants something unique to the style definitely must take note. Death Calls the Islands may not be the most engaging Black Metal release, but it’s a nice breath of fresh air among the stereotypes sucking the air of originality from the catacombs of the Metal world. It’s just a shame this effort is stuck there…
01. The Dogs Smell Blood – 7:44
02. Claw at the Pine – 5:21
03. From Rats We Hide – 5:16
04. E-C-T – 1:26
05. Dr. Creve – 4:20
06. The Rats Resist – 4:38
07. Twenty Fifth Island – 4:14
08. Death Call the Islands – 8:54
09. The Blood Wave – 6:41
|Overall Score: 8.5/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by Misantrof Records.