Yes, yes, I know that I'm about a week late on this release, but fuck it - I just really wanted to talk about this new Illyria single!
With the exception of fellow kick-ass Perth group, Deadspace, one of the band's that is doing atmospheric and melodic black metal real justice in Australia right now is Illyria.
As my brother put it last year in his review of this quintet's solid debut record, Illyria is by all accounts, a "Deafheaven Down Under" kind of act. In that, they sound very similar to bands such as Deafheaven. However, while that comparison still rings true for Illyria in 2017, these guys are just damned good at crafting and executing this emotionally gripping combination of black metal conventions and touching instrumental/shoegaze elements. All to a stunning effect no less.
As for the exact why and the how of this, I would now like to direct your attention to the WA outfit's recently released track, 'Swansong' - a solid step up from their self-titled debut. (Well, I say recent - it came out last week, and I'm only now just getting around to talking about it now like the utter bell-end that I am).
[caption id="attachment_1091937" align="aligncenter" width="760"] 'Swansong' was released on April 20, 2017. The track's artwork was done by Carly Laden & Jeremy Pickett, who also produced the track.[/caption]
This dynamic six-minute epic is a melodic yet heavy, instrumentally nuanced and beautifully bleak black metal composition; one that weaves together all of the usual black metal and shoegaze musical tropes into one damn fine piece. The result is a song that's greater than what most other metal bands twice Illyria's age could ever hope to muster up. Whether it's the delay on the opening chorus/flanger-laced guitar chords; those distant, haunting and harrowing screams that draw you into the mix; the quieter instrumental passages following the two-minute mark; the short but sweet guitar solos that are found throughout; and the emotionally blistering, driving pace of the mid-section that catapults the songs towards it's slower yet grander finale - 'Swansong' is just a killer fucking track!
Another thing that metal bands like Illyria often excel at is creating fittingly heavy musical arrangements to support their mournful, melancholic lyrics. And Illyria is no exception. Vocal shrieks that sit just beyond the mix's foreground and which sound like a 1980's millennium plate reverb is being used on them deliver hard-hitting lyrics like "Watching you wither away/All you would do is pray/Watching you rest was an eternal release/the empty breaths turning to silent peace" and "If heaven exists, I still need time here on Earth so I can see you again". Emo, indeed. (Well, I say 'emo' in my own facetiousness - the song's about one of the band members family members passing away, sadly).
Now, of course, 'Swansong' will not be the most original work in black metal - and its many further sub-sub-genres - that you'll hear in 2017, but that could never hope to detract from this work's powerful impact and overall high quality.
So please, please stream 'Swansong' below - as it's fucking awesome - and I would also implore you to purchase it here.
Illyria will be supporting France's Alcest on Saturday, April 29th in Perth - get your tickets for it here.
Header photo credit: DarkSpiritPhotography.