Sometimes the first impression counts. In the case of ISLAND it does not, not really. When I looked at the cover of “Orakel” (which is a compilation of two previous demos of the band) I expected something very melodic, moody, calm; maybe folky, something acoustic-guitar-orientated. The booklet reinforced this impression: at this point I have to say, the layout is really very impressing and beautiful. It just has not so much to do with the music one would expect, at least at first sight.
The second impression then was not quite accurate, too – it was the impression of the first song, which starts as, let’s say, rhythm-orientated Death Metal. Yet this song swings around its mood and offers a glimpse of what is to come, finally, with the strong second song “River source”. This song is ISLAND in a nutshell and the first stand-out song. Somewhere between Death- and Black-metal (I am still not sure how to label ISLAND, they are somehow both: maybe deathened Black Metal. Or then, maybe the other way round. I don’t know. Ack, just listen for yourself) ISLAND pull up their whole array of abilities, ranging from groovy DM to screeching BM, calm acoustic parts, clear choir singing and a shouter between screams and growls.
Now the most impressive thing is this: This band could pass as the legitimate heirs of VED BUENS ENDE, sometimes even invoking the wickedness of VIRUS (compare the beginning of “The White Ghoul”, for example). The melodies are downright weird, just like I love them. Then again ISLAND seem to embark on a spiritual quest with ENSLAVED; mostly in their slower moments they are very near to their compositional genius (example: “Serenity”). Melodies which force you to close your eyes while floating over landscapes that look like this. An example of this would be “Über dem Thal”, which means, appropriately enough, “Over the vale”. The moments when ISLAND get very calm and acoustic (guitarwise) you could even pull OPETH for comparison, and when they bare their teeth I find myself remembering ULVER’s “Bergtatt”. And all that with an own note; I can’t really explain what, but “Orakel” is an album (I choose to call it that because the mastering did a great job in letting “Orakel” sound like whole, even though it consists of two demos) you won’t forget soon. Moreover, you are going to miss it when it’s over, much like a good book. Good thing is of course you can (and should!) listen to it again, and again, and again.
The only thing that makes “Orakel” an unpolished jewel is the weak drum sound. The drummer (I read somewhere that he is actually a jazz drummer which shines through every now and then) is really diversified and outstanding, but some parts (especially the faster blasts) could have profited from a more kickass-sound. Apart from that, “Orakel” manages to impress and to enchant and is a hot candidate for a top five for 2008. A nostalgic return to the beginnings of (mainly) norwegian Avantgarde Metal!
Label: Vendlus Records
Avantgenre: DeathBlack DisHarmony
Official site: http://www.islandband.de/
Review online since: 27.04.2008 / 12:07:13
01 – Journey Through The Jewel
02 – River Source
03 – Grund
04 – Orakel
05 – Ueber Dem Thal
06 – Serenity
07 – Untitled
08 – The White Ghoul
09 – Veritas
10 – Island
Leave a Reply