Pitch Black Records
March 12th, 2013
1. Blood Warrior
2. Gallow Hill
3. King of Your Mind
5. No Salvation
6. Captain of the Seven Seas
8. Shade of Me
9. Not My God
10. It’s on Me
Illnath are a melodic blackened death metal band hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark. They have been making music since 2000, and have put out a few quality albums in that time. 4 Shades of Me is their fourth full length album. Their first album, Cast Into Fields of Evil Pleasure featured cold orchestral elements in addition to harsh black metal riffing. Now, on this newest release, they have experienced severe line-up changes (the guitarist is the only founding member of the band remaining) and moved away from their earlier, more symphonic sound. Illnath, now play a much straighter extreme metal sound, with the occasional rock groove thrown in.
The first thing that really stands out about this album is the high quality of the guitar riffing. Using a combination of black and death metal influences, Illnath are able to create a very interesting mix on 4 Shades of Me. It isn’t a completely unique sound, but Illnath do a good job stringing the various elements together. An icy blast of frigid black metal fury will transition into a neck-breaking death metal groove, and then shift into a grand melodic passage. The transitions between sections are great, with the only issue being that some of the riffs tread dangerously close towards the generic side of things. A couple of great grooves make welcome appearances, notably on the songs “No Salvation”, “Gallow Hill” and the more melodic sections of“Blood Warrior”.
Another divisive aspect that needs to be mentioned is the complete lack of symphonic elements, which was a staple of Illnath’s sound in the past, especially on their previously mentioned, excellent debut album, Cast Into Fields of Evil Pleasure. Sadly, the newer material has been stripped of these defining elements and unfortunately their absence is largely felt. Due to the importance of symphonics to Illnath’s sound when they began it’s rather mystifying why they made the decision to remove this part of their music entirely, as it adds much needed depth and resonance to their music.
Overall, the influences and ideas that this album comprises of could have been utilized in more inventive ways, but this is still a solid example of black and death metal being squeezed into one melodic package. A few highlights on the album include “Captain Of The Seven Seas”, “Blood Warrior”, and “Not My God.”
The vocalist, Mona Beck, is one of the better elements in the band. Her growls stand out intensely, like an inferno of rage and darkness, this being her second album with the band. Additionally, the guitar tone is sharp, visceral, and packs a lot of punch, and the lead tone used for the more icy melodies is clear and rounded. From a playing stand point, the guitars are competent, with a few strong licks and riffs, but ultimately fail to do anything truly memorable. The drumming is another aspect of the music that falls short of greatness. It is by no means bad, it is even enjoyable in places; it just fails to provide a performance that will stick in the listeners head for longer than the album’s length.
Illnath’s 4 Shades of Me is a decent, solid offering of melodic blackened death metal. It has some good grooves, nice melodic passages, and a fantastic vocal performance, but ultimately is not as memorable as it could be. The removal of the orchestrations from their sound, while a conscious decision by the band, turns out to be a crippling one. Effectively the band have removed one of the major components of their sound and is to their detriment. This album is worth a listen for hardcore fans, but casual fans should stick with their earlier material.