February 26, 2015

Review - 'Malsanctum, Ithaqua and Isabrut'

Iron Bonehead’s knack to sniff out talent and the most underground metal available is second to none and this February they’re set to bring us even more obscure greatness in the form of three tape releases from three of the underground’s most promising bands. All three will be released on cassette and are demo/debut releases so each is totally fresh and new from the Iron Bonehead’s vaults.

Malsanctum - Morbid Fetishization 

There’s very little information currently available regarding Canada’s Malsanctum who are releasing the aptly titled “Morbid Fetishization,” - aptly titled as morbidity and death are most definitely high on their musical agenda. The demo is a single track, twenty four minute excursion to the depths of hell with a heavy dose of feedback and distortion as your only companion. A solitary feedback squeal introduces you to Malsanctum’s deathly, doomy, black and morbid metal which is both oppressive and suffocating. 

The production on Morbid Fetishization is very murky and lends itself well to the dark, dank world you’re propelled into on listening. Malsanctum’s music combines funeral and blackened doom and features quite distinct vocals that are an otherworldly, guttural and smothered growl amidst the heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars which play a pivotal role in maintaining the sinister atmosphere. I found the indiscernible vocal to be quite a distinct and likeable part of the music that helps in piling on the hate within their darkened, oppressive world. Very lo-fi yet heavily atmospheric, doom laden and featuring feedback and distortion in almost equal measure this is for those who like their music heavy, slow and laced with vehemence - I thoroughly enjoyed it and Malsanctum are certainly a group to watch out for. 


Ithaqua - Initiation to Obscure Mysteries 

Ithaqua are a Greek two-piece who’ve drawn similarities with the likes of early Rotting Christ and Varathron via their music which is mid-paced, doomy and occult metal laced together with macabre synths and memorable riffs. The demo consists of five tracks and clocks in at just over thirty minutes. The Winds of Ithaqua is the opener and begins with howling winds and synth effects before a spoken vocal begins; a sombre yet effective introduction to Ithaqua’s music. Summoning the Incarnations of the Worm is the third track and has a few sections where the bass features much heavier than the rest and to be honest it’s a little distracting at times as it seems to appear from nowhere for a few notes before disappearing. Also, I felt the drums featured quite low in the mix and during infrequent periods of more prominence they seemed to adopt the same frenetic pace and were fairly similar in pattern. I’m not knocking the drummer from Ithaqua whatsoever, I just feel a better level of audibility in the production mix may have afforded a different overall impression but let’s bear in mind this is a demo and a damned good one at that! 

The final track, Beyond the Cursed Lines, is a bass solo accompanied by spoken word  – with over a duration of over seven minutes, in theory, this may seem like a little too lengthy but on listening this is far from the case as it’s bewitching and captivating with the seven minutes passing much quicker than you’d think. Their use of synths throughout is an excellent addition to their sound and accompanies the music very well. At times I found their sound to be slightly reminiscent of Cemetery Fog, being a massive fan of Cemetery Fog this should be seen as a compliment of Ithaqua’s music. Demos are there to whet the appetite and for me this is definitely the case as it’s a very promising taster that’s left me wanting to see how this band develops and progresses. 


Isabrut – Isabrut 

Isabrut come from Squamish, a community located within Canada’s British Columbia and as with the other bands featured in this review there’s very little information available about them online, such is their newness to the fold. Their self-titled demo includes four tracks spanning eighteen minutes and features some very memorable, catchy riffage. Isabrut don’t arse about and launch straight into Omen at a fast and heavy pace reminiscent of death metal before dropping to a steadier pace just past the minute mark when the riffs dropped are absolute quality and bear a passing resemblance to an early (still hungry) Sepultura. This demo is an effective blend of death and thrash metal. 

As my press release stated this sort of music is “timeless and trend-free” and I tend to agree with this. There’s a twist of South American barbarity within this music that sets it head and shoulders above many current thrash/death bands – like I said, if you like early Sepultura (who doesn’t?) you’ll absolutely love this - the riffs are both catchy and heavy – your head may never nod again if it doesn’t do so to this! On first listen this is the catchiest of the three demos – though the others are growers and appeal in similar measure after a few listens. 


Three very different demo recordings, three very different musical styles – nonetheless these are three essential listens that will all be available by the end of February. If you’re after something new and fresh I suggest you get all three. Excellent music once again from Iron Bonehead Productions.

Reviews by Trevor Proctor. All three tapes are available now from Iron Bonehead Productions.

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