An encounter provoking thought and the imagination as voraciously as it did ears and body, The Realms of Fire and Death is the new album from Ukraine melodic metallers Ignea. It provides a full-blooded emprise of sound and storytelling which from start to finish took attention and pleasure under its visceral and viscera stained embrace.
Kiev hailing, Ignea first emerged in 2013 under the name of Parallax. The Sputnik EP was released a year later before in 2015 the band rebranded as Ignea and began a new chapter in their evolving sound and creative character. Debut album The Sign of Faith found a praise carrying welcome in 2017, success leading to tours across Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands with bands such as Nordic death metallers Illdisposed, Butcher Babies and Kobra and the Lotus and shows within the likes of Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as prominent festivals in France, Lithuania, and Ukraine over the next couple of years. It was a time also seeing the band writing and crafting the concept tale behind The Realms of Fire and Death.
Divided into three major parts and accompanied by a book of short tales incorporating the lyrics of each song, it is fair to say that The Realms of Fire and Death incited ears and the imagination equally from its first captivating symbol and metaphor intimating moments. It soon proved impossible not to be as entangled in the stories breeding its themes of fire and death as the sounds shaping their individual and distinct adventures. Musically the band’s melodic metal is a tapestry of flavours and styles, an undercurrent of the symphonic metal which the band first arose with embracing richer electronic enterprise whilst the multiplicity of their metal bred sound is often as brutal and predacious as it is melodically seductive and progressively scented.
The album opens with Queen Dies and a rhythmic intimation luring ancient and middle-eastern seeded conjuring. As guitar and keys spin their own suggestiveness, vocalist Helle Bogdanova rises up with melodic beauty dripping from every syllable of the tale told. Playing the lead protagonist she effortlessly captivated within the similarly alluring enterprise of guitarist Dmitriy Vinnichenko and keyboardist Evgeny Zhytnyuk. Yet darkness, emotional betrayal, and demons await; a portentous edge and subsequent snarl erupting through the rhythmic trespass of drummer Ivan Kholmogorov and the carnivorously throated bass of Xander Kamyshin. As her lyrics reveal the darkness to unfurl, so Bogdanova’s tones portray hellish threat amid physical contrast, her fusion of clean and gut bruising dexterity irresistible.
It is an outstanding start to the release which evolves into the following Чорне Полум’я (Chorne Polumia), a track which even sung in the singer’s mother tongue cannot not hide the continuing battle of emotions and paranoia fuelling the story it continues. Again Bogdanova is a magnet with her vocal diversity, her clean presence especially enthralling whilst equally the feral and melodic craft of the band shares a tapestry of suggestion and exhortation commanding skill and attention as again a web of styles are woven into Ignea’s striking sound.
Out of My Head chews on the senses from its first breath, rhythms boldly dancing on the surface as the textural enterprise of guitars, keys and bass again bring a host of flavours woven together for one contagious and fascinating involvement. This too has us swiftly and greedily devouring its physical drama and lyrical awakening; defiance and realisation shaping its heart before the band tantalised with a cover of Í Tokuni, a song by Faroese singer-songwriter Eivør and fair to say it beguiled as effortlessly and richly as those before it.
The electronic template of Too Late to Be Born was enticement enough to keep the album’s grip on ears tight, the quickly following corruption of hellish endeavour addictive and continually challenged by melodic temptation while What For flirts with folk nurture radiance and a rhythmic shuffle which was under the skin before its first melodic tempting had finished caressing ears. Bogdanova is a harmonic sun within its mix, the whole thing a melodic summer warming the instinctive need of the body to join its encouraging swing and forgiving voice.
So many major moments are shared by the album, this quickly followed by another in the thickly contrasting climate and threat of Gods of Fire. Once more though Ignea prove skilled in fusing beauty and raw menace, music and voice uniting both just as the emotional shifts within the pages of the tale it reveals before Jinnslammer roars in defiance and rebellion upon a landscape still fertile with melodic invention and inspiration. From Bogdanova’s bewitching vocal presence to the individual prowess of her comrades, song and indeed album are cauldrons of pure temptation and enthralment; so often irresistible and always spellbinding as proven as ably by Disenchantment and its riveting web of sonic wiring and melodic enticement woven into another tale ears and thoughts devoured.
With an English version of Чорне Полум’я translated as Black Flame completing its mighty presence, The Realms of Fire and Death only proved increasingly addictive and impressive; its creators a band all metallers should be checking out sooner rather than later.
The Realms of Fire and Death is out now; available @ https://ignea.band/products/the-realms-of-fire-and-death-cd
Pete RingMaster 19/05/2020
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