Saturday, June 2, 2018

Full Length Review: ISENORDAL Spectral Embrace (Eternal Warfare Records) by Dave Wolff

Place of origin: Seattle, Washington, USA
Genre: Black funeral doom, dark folk
Available in digital and streaming format
Release date: June 1, 2018
Isenordal have been active since 2013 and have two demos, two full length albums and a split release with Void Omnia to their name. I randomly chose Spectral Embrace for my next writeup, and was greeted by a departure from extreme metal fare as I am often prone to be. With a name like Isenordal you might expect Spectral Embrace to be blistering black metal. If so you’re bound for a surprise as the material here is tranquil, with melodic vocals, string instruments and keyboard instruments tastefully written into compositions that fans of black metal, folk and goth should be able to appreciate. Spectral Embrace was released a year after their last full length Shores Of Mourning. I took the time to listen to that album again before checking out their new release in its entirety. The music was closer to black metal and the title fit the disconsolate essence of the songs. While being more direct and single minded than its predecessor, Spectral Embrace boasts a sound that is more all-encompassing, more opiate than grief-stricken, with greater emphasis on singing as opposed to the raspy vocals of their 2017 album. As the Bandcamp link provided by Earsplit included the lyrics, I could read along but you don’t really need an accompanying lyric sheet. Kerry Hall and Marisa Kaye Janke are so mesmerizing and bewitching as vocalist you cannot help but take in the lyrics. Again Isenordal is a band that elected to grow, bloom and metamorphose on their terms, without trying too hard to convince you of how versatile they are from album to album. This recording is honest and expresses how the band felt as they worked on it, aiming to please themselves first and seeing if their message would be heeded when the time came. The songs are sad and bereaved without forcing the listener to despair. Rather it gently invites you inside to find comfort and respite from a world that is far more unpleasant and destructive on the outside. You may even decide you want to spend more time there with repeated listens. I suspect it would be good for most in the long haul. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Kerry Hall - Guitar, Vocals
G. G. - Guitar
Jeff King - Bass, Cello
Marisa Kaye Janke - Viola, Vocals
Brian Hazard Spenser - Drums, Percussion
Lieu Wolfe - Piano, Organ, Keyboards, Vocals

Track list
1. The Sorrow of a Shadowed World
2. Inevitable Product of the Foretold
3. Despondent Longing and Phantasmal Communion
4. An Entrancing Dream
5. Dissolution into the Earth
6. To Turn thy Thoughts from the Tree of Life

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