Isenordal - Requiem For Eirênê (Cover Artwork)


Requiem For Eirênê (2024)

Prophecy Productions

I had no prior knowledge of Isenordal ahead of receiving this record. Once I heard the kind of music they make, I felt more than a little surprised that they had flown under my radar. All the more so given that this is their third record and the band has been around, birthed from the Seattle underground, for over a decade now. Then again, no-one can be familiar with all of the underground metal bands. However, I still can’t help but feel that a band who sit so firmly in one of my sweet spots and are capable of writing and recording something so clearly worthy of note as this, should have crossed my path before now?

I’ll put the arguable shortcomings of my own underground metal spies to one side for now, to talk about the record. Where to start, though? The press notes suggest (albeit with some hesitation) that this record could be described as blackened doom. And at points, I can entirely see why that would be a fair descriptor. But given the incongruity inherent in some of the key characteristics of the 2 genres alluded to, even that doesn’t really elucidate things. So let’s break it down. There are long, glacial, morose passages. There are a mere 5 tracks on offer, but only one of them is sub-10 minutes. There are the throat-shredding shrieks and blastbeats that would typically be associated with black metal. But all of these things combined make up only a tiny part of the story of this record. There are clean vocals, both male and female, there are piano laments, ecclesiastical organs, classical string passages which have been properly composed, not simply added as ‘texture’. The list goes on. As a result, one thing you could not accuse this album of being short of is dynamics. That and drama.

If you look at the artwork for the record, it actually serves as a cypher for the record in many ways. The Atlas-stanced, semi-silhouetted nude; obviously evoking renaissance scultpure and its deep theological ties. To the right of the image, the raging, impressionistic flames are totemic in their metaphorical reflection of the savagery in the record. Savagery which although present at times, is always subtly veiled in a sheen of what I can only describe as graceful and elegant malevolence. When these passages come in, the mood of the record shifts to something arcane. An atavistic, almost medieval sense of foreboding and, well, doom. The band’s logo, the most cursive of script, speaks to the dank, grimy, moss-laden ambience of the record. The whole package of the record is cohesive, beautifully crafted and steeped in authenticity. It shouldn’t be underestimated how much work must have gone into making that fact a reality.

I like my metal to have a weight to it beyond the sonic elements. Paradoxically, sometimes the way to make this happen is to add in elements of folk horror, traditional stringed instrumentation and other things that are frankly more sinister than the ‘swords aloft’ style of trad heavy metal. Many bands do that, but few are able to turn it into something cinematic, emotionally affecting and darkly beautiful in the way that Isenordal have here. You can consider me both impressed, and a new fan of Isenordal.