Ilsa – Corpse Fortress

    To refer to Ilsa’s latest, Corpse Fortress (Relapse), as just Doom Metal seems a bit reductive. Yes, Doom is the foundation on which the monolith tracks of Ilsa are built on, and that is fiercely on display on ‘Drums of the Dark Gods’ and ‘Hikikomari.’ But careful attention reveals that there are undercurrents of Black, Thrash and even Punk fortifying the stock.

    Does the music cease to be Doom by infusing with other styles? Don’t know, and I quite don’t care. The occasional hiccup found in some Doom or Sludge bands is locking themselves into contests of who can go lower and slower all the while throwing any songwriting out of the window.

    ‘Cosmos Antinomos’ is all pounding tribal rhythms and crushing steamroller guitars, until the tremolo picking, and kick drums come straight out of Norway and somehow improves the sonic palate completely. Another unexpected wrinkle in Ilsa’s game are guitarists Brendan and Tim’s willingness to throw in leads and solos wherever they want. With its ample feedback and churning riff ‘Nasty, Brutish’ is already solid, throw in a wild Kirk Hammett inspired solo and its memorability doubles. And when you least expect it, ‘Old Maid’ becomes a secret Motorhead song that lands with the impact of a trunk full of horseshoes.

    Speaking of the unexpected, an eerie sample not out of place on a Godflesh recording gives way to probably the most Earth-cracking riff on the whole album in ‘Long Lost Friend.’ The mood is tense, the ambiance black as a moonless night and you’re stuck with the unshakeable feeling that something sinister lies ahead. The impending terror is finally diffused somewhat with another elaborate and tasteful guitar solo.

    Is it a Doom album? Does it have to be? Why am I typing in a dining room? Who cares. Call Corpse Fortress what it is: an awesome Heavy Metal record.




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