Perhaps being home to Roadburn Festival, the terminus of those on sonic pilgrimage the world over, has done something to the water in Tilburg, because the emergence of a band such as Izah in such proximity to this musical Mecca must be more than coincidence. In any case, on their debut full-length ‘Sistere’ the Dutch six-piece have crafted an enormous and enthralling concoction of metal’s most experimental and evocative elements, marrying sludge, doom, post-rock, and black metal with an array of narrative-based samples to create an viscerally emotive listening experience.
After a creepily windswept build-up, ‘Indefinite Instinct’ dives into a sweeping, head-nodding display of chord progressions, with the band showcasing their influences with the Cult of Luna-esque tinge on the album’s crunching production. Breaking into a tranquil passage of delicate guitar picking however, Izah quickly move into their own territory, with estranged spoken word vocals capturing an essence of angst and frustration that paves way for throatily roared rage. Layered upon the dramatically tense build-up of drum and guitars, the result reveals Izah’s ability to manipulate a broad emotional spectrum early on in the album, and such atmospheric and emotive variation is woven throughout the subsequent three tracks. Nods towards the aforementioned Cult of Luna creep in, yet the more black metal-centric elements also bring to mind France’s The Great Old Ones, however with such distinctive anguish permeating the tracks Izah offer an immersive sound all of their own.
Although something of a marathon affair, clocking in at 67 minutes over just four tracks, the sense that ‘Sistere’ is clearly intended and envisioned as a single entity rather than a collection of songs disperses any notion that the length might be a test of patience. Instead the record proves to be a journey that demands attention rather than effort, and as the soundscape of the 31 (?!) minute closing title-track fades away, a sense of completion and reflection fills the void where moments previously there was sound. It’s an undeniably bold approach, but through succeeding in its undertaking with such aplomb, ‘Sistere’ represents a band not just willing to push certain boundaries, but to go beyond them with resounding prowess and ability.