Ilsa follows up their debut full-length Tutti il Colori del Buio with Intoxicantations, a ten-track odyssey into the dark heart of humanity. Retaining the dense, genre-defying sound on their previous records, Ilsa adds in a healthy dose of doom to create a truly terrifying work. An intro of spliced samples foreshadows the album's main themes: drugs, Satan, and the Occult. As the last sample fades away, the band unleashes “Foreign Lander” which within seconds bludgeons the listener. There is no respite, even during the title track where the pace turns into a menacing crawl. Even when Ilsa is at its slowest, the music is indescribably ominous.
“Man Made Monsters” is an absolute monster of a track. Clocking in at just under six-minutes Ilsa sends the listener through a scary sound-scape that blends together elements of doom, hardcore, and at times black metal. After a lengthy build-up, there's a brief respite – a moment of false security – before a bloodcurdling scream is unleashed. The last half of the track definitely picks up the speed and then other-worldly guitars close things out. The closer, “Skin And Bones” is another great example of how unpredictable – and great – Ilsa is. Likening the sound is difficult, but imagine a more hardcore oriented early Ramesses, where the feel is just immense. It's a track that you'll find yourself headbanging to, even involuntarily. And then as “Skin And Bones” comes to a close, a crescendo of noise and air-raid sirens creates a brutal atmosphere.
I really liked the injection of doom in this record; Tutti il Colori del Buio perhaps showed hints of it, but Intoxicantations benefits from the change up. Another aspect I really liked was the track length in general. There were no dull moments or even unneeded passages. Every second was used beautifully to create a monster of a record, and a perfect follow up to Tutti il...
Whilst I've talked about the music, I feel as if the artwork needs mentioning. Whether it was the Hooded Menace split or the debut full-length, the cover art always stood out. A digital file for iTunes doesn't do this justice. Just for starters, there is a tiger with an acid tab on its tongue, insects, and maggots - and even a heroin spoon tossed in for good measure. I cannot wait to hold this record in my hands and fully appreciate it.
A389 is starting pre-orders for Intoxicantations fittingly on 10/31 along with the new Nothing record. I highly recommend checking out Ilsa. A389's bandcamp page has two tracks off Intoxicantations available for your listening pleasure – and whilst you're there, check out all the other cool releases there for free no less!