Immolith – StormDragon
Pure raw black metal with evil melodies and hooks that would make Skeletonwitch jealous. They utilize dual guitar harmony a good deal—in some songs more than others. For instance, the title track is filled with interesting layers of guitars that go beyond simple diatonic harmony. Possibly to accommodate for this, the bass guitar is pushed so far back it can barely be heard. This means during the parts where the guitars are doubled up, it gets quite boring, such as in some of the slower parts of “The Obsidian Throne of Azazel”. But these are very few and in between. Throughout the album, the style does not change; the songs are structured without rigid formula, and some melodies are able to separate the songs from one another, but each one uses the same bag of tricks.
Nothing fantastic here. Just straightforward, harmonious black metal. There are a few flashy, yet grating tremolo-picked guitar parts, but most of the riffs are simple single-string or double-stops. There are a few solos hidden throughout the album, but they’re small and unimportant (as they tend to be in this genre), and they probably would be just as good to omit them. Immolith play their instruments well; everything is tight, nothing is sloppy.
Production is up to my black metal standards. It’s dirty, it’s real, and its violent. My only complaint is that it isn’t a very heavy mix.
Mood (Hate): 5/5
StormDragon definitely has that melodic black metal appeal (think somewhere between Dissection and Dark Tranquility’s The Gallery). You’d think that because of this, there isn’t much of a mood setter because guitar melodies tend to be up-lifting; but through the thoughtful use of dissonant intervals, evil cadence, and the diabolus in musica, your mind does not drift to such flowery places. I can also imagine Immolith would set a really great atmosphere live—especially for black metal fans who also like the energy of modern thrash metal.
Presentation (Ferocity): 3.5/5
As I mentioned before, the mix isn’t very heavy. The guitars are way in the foreground, which makes for an interesting listen, but it detracts from the mix as a whole. Any headbanging you’ll be doing will be completely reliant on composition and the way the melodies flow—which is one of their talents; the riffs in “A Pact of Blood”, the last song on the album, are incredibly driving and invigorating. Raw high-end EQ works great for primitive black metal, but this has already taken too many innovative steps.
Origin (Tradition/Innovation): 3/5
As far as I can tell, Immolith takes it’s origin from Dungeons & Dragons, in the most unholy tradition of black metal (not to mention their own label is called “Carrion Crawler”). StormDragon has a strange balance of traditional black metal production quality and inventive melodic modernity, utilizing both progressive harmony and a few heavy metal hooks. The rawness and minimalism of the traditional side would have you wallowing in misanthropy and self-hatred if it weren’t for the inspired creativity, and you can’t fully enjoy the horns-in-the-air/in-your-face dual guitar riffs because it lacks the heaviness of more contemporary black metal. I realize that Immolith is trying to have their cake and eat it too, but in this case they’ve spread the frosting too thin.
4 out of 5
StormDragon is a tremendously enjoyable album. Reservations about production only apply when you listen in-between bigwigs like Immolation and Immortal. Rhythm guitar enthusiasts will find the album enjoyable, as the riff composition and harmony is top-notch. Trust me, you will not be bored with this album.
~Breath of Mozym