The Isolation Process – Self Titled


    Thick in sound, textures, and emotional presence, the debut self-titled album from Swedish alternative metallers The Isolation Process is a transfixing adventure which catches the imagination and ignites the senses. Expectations for the album were slightly on the high side looking at the pedigree of its creators and it certainly does not let those hopes and assumptions down, instead leaving them an underestimation of what emerges from the riveting release.

      The Isolation Process was borne from the ashes of Scandinavian alternative rockers Lingua, vocalist/guitarist Thomas Henriksson, bassist Anders Carlström, and drummer  Patrik Rydbrand from the group (and also of sludge metallers Come Sleep), continuing to write and create together after the band’s recent demise. With a heavier, darker, and slightly more progressive sound emerging, the trio recorded their debut album with Michael Nordström (Switch Opens, Lingua, Jesaiah) last year. Mastered by Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna, Khoma) the resulting proposition is a mouth-watering incitement aurally and emotionally. Released via Version Studio Records the nine track evocative journey merges beauty and intimidation, shadows and flames into a creative landscape which immediately enthrals and continues to intensify its persuasion over every listen.

     Opener A Simple Gesture takes no time in casting a voracious presence over the ears, riffs gnawing the senses as they chug the-isolaton-process-cover-300dpiwith an intimidating predation alongside a bass sound which is bestial at its core and wonderfully ravenous at certain moments. It is just a teaser to the enterprise to follow though as just when you expect to be chewed up from start to finish unrelentingly the band swoops into a fire of melodic temptation and soaring sonic endeavour which aligned to the impressive rich vocals of Henriksson simply captivates. Merging and alternating between the breath-taking sounds and climbing intensity, it is a skilled and fluid union of diverse textures, a masterful suasion which by its end has alone seduced the fullest attention and appetite for what is on offer.

    The following Visions is a different kind of creature right away, it’s gentle entrance, in comparison to its predecessor, a melodically bred coaxing which canters across the imagination as guitars stroke out magnetic chords and firm but respectfully rhythms frame the potent welcome. Into its stride with again great vocals wrapping every word and emotion around the striking sounds, the track unveils its sinews to create crescendos of intense incitement with again the bass producing a throaty rapaciousness which only deepens the persuasion. It is an anthemic slab of a song which like the first only strips any stability from remaining reservations, if any are still remaining.

     Underneath It All steps forward next and with a melancholic air to its beckon provides an emotive canvas to reflect and immerse within but one unafraid to erupt with volcanic force and passionate ferociousness from within the sirenesque melodic narrative. Not for the first time on the album there is an element of Stabbing Westward and Cold about the song which though adding a familiarity only enhances the potency of the bewitchment. Initially not as instant in its strength as the first pair it a song which just gets better and better every time it evokes attention, again just like the album.

     From the pleasingly sculpted and intriguing instrumental Inhale the album is back to snarling with a voracious rabidity through Victims of the Masses; the track a mentally invasive and emotionally provocative tempest of aggressive hunger and elegant beauty forged into a sonic landscape which is as rugged as it is mellow and as reflective as it is feverishly intensive. An adrenaline raising evocation, the song makes way for the scowling beauty of The Dead End, a giant of a track which roars with melodic passion and growls with rigorous bearing before it departs for the second instrumental Exhale to provide a breathing space. Both pieces of music are perfectly enjoyable but to be honest more allow time to process and reflect on what has come before than reveal any addition to the album’s objective no matter their intent. It is not their failure but just the power around them.

     It Will Burn and Nothing To Collect complete the immense encounter, the first arguably the most bestial track but again in league with a melodic flaming and sonic invention which radiates and sublimely tempers any unbridled aggression which other bands might succumb to. It is not the strongest on the album but still a moment to lose one’s satisfaction to before the final emotionally fuelled fury brings the album to a dramatic conclusion. A slowly burning but wholly convincing and absorbing storm of sound and intensity, the song momentously completes an album which it is impossible not to find a torrent of time for physically and emotionally. The Isolation Process has for these humble ears and thoughts created the finest moment of its member’s artistic journey to date, a gem of a release and a long term engagement.


RingMaster 10/01/2014 

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Khoma: All Erodes

Consisting of previously unreleased songs written between 2002 and 2012, many tracks which did not make the final cuts of previous albums, All Erodes from Swedish band Khoma is surprisingly strong. It is probably fair to say that with many other bands bringing together songs which did not make it the first time around would mean a decent enough album but one which still feels like a collection of tracks not making the grade. All Erodes certainly does not, the tracks within impressive and well worthy of proper exposure. The strength of the release knowing the background to the songs was admittedly unexpected and validating easily a statement from Khoma guitarist Johannes Persson, “We’ve recorded a lot of material for every record that we have had to leave out or didn’t have time to finalize… but we really like all these songs and wanted to do something with them… the idea is that ‘All Erodes’ – spanning songs from all three stages – will sum up and close this part of Khoma’s history”.

Formed in Umeå in 2003, the band did not take long to instigate strong attention and acclaim their way with a sound which blended the local hardcore scene to an emotive atmospheric pop breath.  Consisting of several members of Cult of Luna, The Perishers and The Deportees, their debut album Tsunami in 2004 sparked great interest and sold out quickly. Signing with Roadrunner Records the following year, 2006 saw second album The Second Wave repeat and expand on that response with the band being acclaimed at home and across Europe. Their sound was and is intense and emotionally enveloping, its persuasion making their live performances either in intimate surroundings or from a festival stage powerful and a pull for further great responses from media and fans.

The band then disappeared from view in all aspects; the band just concentrated on writing from late 2007 until their re-emergence in 2009. Signing with Selective Notes, the Anders Fridéns (In Flames) label, they released the mighty A Final Storm album, a release which earned nominations and awards as well as garnering their strongest acclaim yet. Released through Pelagic Records, All Erodes is like an epilogue to what came before, a drawing of all threads into a final statement before turning to the next ‘book’ in their musical journey as a band.

All Erodes spreads through the senses, thoughts, and emotions like a charged whisper borne from a mix of Deftones, Radiohead, and Muse. That is a little simplistic to the diverse breath and invention of the music but gives an idea of the creative flavour at impressive work. The heavy overwhelming ambiences within the songs are deliberate and deeply expressive, their open yet intimate touch and textures equally hypnotic and disturbing. The opening track In Ruins sets the tone, its melancholic piano and vocal start a cold but enchanting lure into the release. Vocalist Jan Jämte with his plaintive tones pulls thoughts into an emotive depth as much as the music, the combination with the guitars of Persson and keys of Fredrik Kihlberg weaving their sonic tapestry as well, simply mesmeric.

It is a powerful start matched and built upon by the muscular slabs of oppressive emotion in Just Another Host and Dead Seas. The first is from a Deftones sphere, the brooding tension and solid intensity a crawling expanse to evoke passion whilst the second is a cold whisper but again just alluring. Floating through its sonic salt makes for a stark and invasive union but as fully rewarding as it is openly erosive upon the senses.

As it plays out its thoughts and emotive soundscapes, the album does not feel like tracks meant for different releases over a decade. It is a seamless flow through to the end, each track seemingly borne from and in connection with its predecessor. The pinnacles of the release come with Give It Meaning and Winter Came Upon Us, both offering another aspect to the sound and ‘story’. The first is a bristling sturdy confrontation, the wonderful grizzled bass stroll and sharp guitar strokes offering slight intimidation beside the ever soothing yet pained vocals. It is a monster of a song in depth, expanse, and intensity easily matched by the corrosive yet melodically beautiful touch of the other. Both songs are majestic and pulsating and must have only missed out on the albums they were originally written for by a hairs breath.

Disregarding the closing track All Like Serpents, All Erodes is an excellent release, well worth an hour and more of any ones time. The final song is an electronic remix of a track from A Final Storm and a song which really has no place on the album other than as a filler. Though decent enough it is to be honest soulless against the original and the other tracks on this album. It does not deplete the strong and impressive presence of the album though, and at the end thoughts are only of a release which is a mighty way to end a chapter for Khoma and the key to new and greater landscapes of sound and emotion.

RingMaster 05/11/2012

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Abraham – The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore

Bringing probably the most caustic and violent experience you are likely to be exposed to this year, the second album from Swiss metalers Abraham is malevolent beauty. Abrasive, corrosive, and at times verging on physically unbearable for sure, but at the same time it is destructively beautiful and one of the best senses stripping pleasures to be unleashed and willingly endured in a long while.

The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore leaves one numb yet smouldering on the inside from the sheer might and force, let alone craft, at work within the violation. The band is tagged as post-hardcore/post-metal but as their second album shows there is much more at play. At times there is a sludge/doom smothering to entrap the listener, the thick oppressive weight of tracks a trap to sink into whilst the snarling and demanding rhythms donkey punch the senses and the flaming melodic sonic invention sears right through to the marrow, its acid presence fusing and extinguishing synapses. It is pure bliss with Abraham now one of the giants of extreme sounds as evidenced by the release.

From Lausanne, the band began working on short circuiting its victims from 2007. Hard work and the honing of their weaponry led to the eventual release of their debut album An Eye on the Universe in 2011, through Pelagic Records (who also release the new album), the label of Ocean guitarist Robin Staps. Critically acclaimed the band soon had Europe on its knees playing alongside bands such as Red Fang, Intronaut, Khoma, EF, Celan, Birds In Row, Mumakil, and Kruger. The Prophet, The Serpent and The Whore, an album inspired by a novel by J.G. Rawls, is the staggering successor and. The release is a tempest of emotions; despair, anger, hopelessness to merely scratch the surface, seeping from the eight songs and the lyrics freely adapted from  the story of an unnamed man falling from the sky to crawl through the lowest spheres of the world. Themes of falling from grace, primal fear, physical pain, loneliness and mystical visions stalk the release, Abraham exploring and bringing them forward to make a vivid presence and touch. Musically the sounds are as tortured and destructive as the lyrical content and intent, the combination upon this Magnus Lindberg (Cult Of Luna) mixed album, creating stark, bleak, and sonically pungent soundscapes.

First track Start With A Heartbeat immediately rips the air apart with astringent sonics and merciless beats. It is a slow salt rub upon the senses which elevates its energy to twist and crawl deep within the psyche. The vocals of Olivier Hähnel expel venom of varied shades watched over by the predator growl from the bass of Valentin Jallut. As the guitars of Jacques Viredaz and Mathieu Jallut blister flesh whilst simultaneously manipulating notes, their tight hold wringing every essence and passion from them, the song creates an abusive rapture which can only be welcomed hungrily.

Man The Serpent and The Great Dismemberment suck the light from the soul, their far reaching dark emotions and malicious sounds leaving the deepest scars and equal pleasure. The rhythms of drummer David Haldimann alone resonate through bone and when contributing to the cartilage shearing sonics and melodic thrashing elsewhere makes for the sweetest abuse. Both songs fire the imagination with their constricting breaths and scathing presences, the second of the two a cacophonous scalding which blisters the atmosphere let alone the senses. At times there is a Killing Joke flavour breaking through, predominantly in the vocals with Hähnel having a Jaz Coleman scowl, with this, the leaden bleed of This Is Not A Dead Man, Yet and the closer Dawn having the richest whisper.

The outstanding New King, Dark Prophet and the epic corruption that is Carcasses leave one grasping for a steadying surface whilst gasping for breath under their dehabilitating tempests. As mentioned the release is a challenge to thought and body but there are moments where one is taken to their limits. All the time though the musicianship and wonderful inventive craft is a raging burn to relish and draw rapture from.

The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore is pure mordant majesty, a brutal beast which rewards time and time again giving new emerging treats with every confrontation. Abraham has taken their already impressive presence and creativity to further stunning inventive and violent heights for one of the albums of the year.

RingMaster 28/09/2012

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