Review Summary: Like a cool ocean breeze through your hollowed out corpse
Irrwisch's self-titled demo opens with the gentle sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore. Three minutes into the opening track, the sound fades away and the listener is thrown into a barrage of black metal carnage. Yet, there has been a few changes to the classic black formula. The opening riff is jarring and unsettling like any good black metal riff, but has somewhat of a brighter and more adventurous feel to it. Irrwisch has been able to escape the ancient forests of Scandinavia to craft a metal album with a truly unique feeling and oceanic setting.
Irrwisch is an atmospheric black metal band from the Netherlands; and in typical black metal fashion, their origins remain somewhat of a mystery. The band plays a variety of metal that sit between the space of Drudkh's passionate folk and Paysage d'HIver lo-fi madness. The music contains trance-inducing guitars, mournful vocals, and heavily developed atmosphere. Irrwisch is able to differentiate themselves with some interesting production. Listing the production as a positive on a atmospheric black metal album may be seem strange, but the production feels meaningful and well thought out. An unusual effect on the recording gives this self-titled demo a strange drowning feeling. The recording is still lo-fi enough to please any fan of the genre and does nothing but push the atmosphere and uniqueness of the album.
The musicianship of each band member are truly excellent. The guitar parts are memorable and give each track a deep, consuming feeling. The riffs repeat themselves continually through songs but they never seem boring, working instead to hypnotizing effect. The vocals are delivered with passion and force. A highlight of the demo is the drumming. Instead of relying on constant blast beats, the drummer shows variety and skill in enhancing the mood and energy of every song. The music travels through the darkness, but show a bit of hope every so often. Many of the riffs seem like a further exploration of the opening riff to "Hymn IV" of Nattens Madrigal, showcasing glimmers of beauty and joy within the abyss of pain and suffering.
Though a refreshing take on the black metal genre, Irrwish's demo does have a few faults that keep it from being a potential classic. For one, the first two tracks on the album end too quickly. Just when the parts had come together to a climax, both tracks fade out almost instantly and in a very awkward way. The guitars parts are solid enough to warrant more from the songs, but the awkward fade only kills the atmosphere of the album. A second issue is that the last two songs showed more ability than what was delivered on the opening half of the album. The last two tracks, …Der Freiheit
show much stronger song writing and a larger dynamic presence. If the entire album had followed the example these two tracks set, we would be looking at a modern black metal classic.
Irrwisch's demo provided an interesting take on black metal, moving the setting from the forest to the ocean. The album is dark enough, lo-fi enough, and chaotic enough to appeal to any fan of the genre. Yet, Irrwisch has altered conventions by including adventurous riffs, moments of brightness, and a unique production style, that will intrigue anyone looking for something different.