Saturday, 15 June 2013

Ilsa - Intoxicantations LP

It took me forever to get around to finally buying a copy of this record due to my current impoverishment. I had to do awful, awful things to afford this album. It was worth it.

The album cover, drawn the band's drummer Joshy, is a truly fucking creepy collage of scuttling insects, animal bones and substance abuse. The juvenile scrawl on the back cover, depicting vomiting and bleeding witches presiding over a cauldron of narcotics, reminds me of the childish obscenity drawn by Mike Diana that graces the cover of Iron Monkey's Our Problem. This is the sort of design that's worth getting the gatefold sleeve for, so you can pore over every revolting detail in the artwork.

The music is just as depraved as the sleeve, and also should be heard as intended; hissing malevolently out of record player speakers. A harrowing catalogue of drug abuse, screams and feedback provides the intro to 'Foreign Lander', the bands brutish take on the folk song. It crashes along at a relentless pace, the shredded throat of Orion imbuing the words with a venomous vehemence before a twisting, writhing solo closes out the track.

The record's title track drags itself out of the speakers, the decrepit drudge of the rhythm overlaid by a howled Intoxicantation, a repulsive recipe for "unholy hallucinations". The tempo is as interminable as the endless agony of fingernails splintering along your spinal column. Fucking lovely.

Eventually it ends and they launch into 'Deadbeat's Ballad', a tale of a Faustian pact, what the Germans call moritaten, or murder ballad. The track careens along at a neck-abusing tempo until midway through when the band lapse into another funeral march, accompanying the horrifying infanticidal lyrics.
The last act of the story, those tortured cries of guilt set to foulest, catchiest sludge makes this my favourite track on the album.

'Man Made Monsters' sounds to me like being stretched to bonebreaking point on the rack, that sick discordant twist of the guitar and the ratcheting of the double kick drumming.
This track reminds me of something Tim Bagshaw would write, that underlying menace in the guitar tone definitely sounds like Ramesses/Serpentine Path to my ears.

The second side of the record opens with 'Say You Love Satan', a foot-stomping, fist-throwing anthem to antichristianity. Ilsa have this ability to make even this harshest of music seem catchy, they've got hooks that dig in like the cover of Severed Survival. I really hope I get the chance to catch them live sometime, so if they ever make it to the UK, there's a floor and a lot of whiskey waiting for them.

'The Scream' is another exorcise in torturous tempo and the strangling of strings. The everyday horror of the lyrics makes it a more disturbing proposition than all that 'anal goat blasphemy' shit kids on tumblr think is evil. The apathy of modern society is far more terrifying than any fictional demon.

The pounding of skins that opens 'Fluid Bound' drives a vertebrae-flexing rhythm, though this track doesn't really vary enough to hold my attention.

'Martyrs', inspired by the disturbing-as-fuck French movie of the same name, is a breakneck bludgeoning that leaves you reeling just as much as the film it takes it's name from. If this track alone doesn't convince you to pick up this record, you're a fucking lost cause.

The album closes out with 'Skin and Bone', which on first impression reminds me of Cursed when they dropped the tempo, the waves of distortion emanating from the speakers hitting with a heaviness I can feel in my gut. An almost melodic guitar solo signals the start of the slow disintegration of the track, the whole structure decaying and dismantling itself til there's nothing left but the scratch of static noise and the wail of air-raid sirens. I almost expect there to be a bonus cover of 'War Pigs' after that, but the sirens die out, the needle scrapes it's last groove and lifts.

I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this revolting slab from A389 Records

And someone book this band to tour the EU/UK with Coffinworm or Brainoil or something.

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