July 26, 2014

Ill Omen - Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence

Written by Craig Hayes.

Cover art by Alexander L. Brown

Home might be where the heart is, but you can be damn sure that hate resides there too. In fact, where you live in this wide world really matters little as far as brewing hate is concerned. As human beings, it’s in our nature to always find someone or something to detest, and Australian one man back metal band Ill Omen is proof of that. The sunny skies of Ill Omen’s homeland shine no light on the band’s oeuvre, and all the sunbeams in the world wouldn't change Ill Omen’s desire to remind us, in the most hateful fashion, that we’re all heading towards a pitch-black grave.

Ill Omen was formed in 2006, by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist IV, and the band’s full-length debut, 2011’s Divinity Through Un-creation, was packed with odes to accompany you on your journey to the final exit. Divinity Through Un-creation isn’t the only nightmarish fare that IV’s been involved in recently either. He’s also a member of Temple Nightside, and that band’s Condemnation album, released in 2013, was a wonderfully spiteful piece of black and death metal, and it’s well worth tracking down.

There’s no mistaking IV’s obsession with death’s cold embrace on Ill Omen’s latest release, Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence. Fact is, we’re all going to rot or become ashes, and while that’s not news to any of us, Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence envelopes you in bitterly cold and bleak black metal to really hammer that point home. There’s a conceptual arc to Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence too, with the album’s 11 tracks all titled “Abhorrence” (with numerals running from I to XI, separating the songs). As mentioned, Ill Omen is interested in the grimmest of destinations, and Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence doesn't allow hope to shine for a second.

“Abhorrence I” starts that journey, with corrosive washes of tremolo riffs, ill-tempered percussion, and vocals rising, fittingly, from the tomb. “Abhorrence II” adds a little more dissonant, buzz-saw fury, and “Abhorrence III” brings even more of that. However, while Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence cuts a clear pathway towards a harrowing end point, IV ensures there are twists and turns to hold the interest, on your way to meet the Angel of Death.

“Abhorrence V” brings Gothic-tinged acoustic guitar, and “Abhorrence VI, VII, and VII” see majestic melodies rising from the catacomb clamour. “Abhorrence IX”, finds sinister choral vocals, set around frostbitten guitars and Stygian drone, and “Abhorrence XI” ends the album with a steep plummet, into a black hole of noise. It’s all one long wretched march towards your demise, with blackened avant-garde progressiveness meeting the indomitable evil of first and second wave black metal.

IV mixes the darkest colours on the palette on Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence. Slower, rack and ruin riffing transitions into stormier sections. Droning soundscapes are cut by mournful howls. And every song here sends shivers up the spine. There’s no doubting the esoteric angle on Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence; this is, blood-curdling and cryptic black metal after all. IV certainly makes the most of Ill Omen’s sonic sorcery to dig deep into the burial pits as well, but as we all know, black metal bands seeking to do the same are a dime a dozen.

What marks Ill Omen as a band worth paying attention to comes down to Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence’s production. The songs themselves are interesting enough, but what tops it off is the bone-chilling atmosphere. Everything resounds back and forth of catacomb walls, with feedback playing off percussion, and whispered, croaked, and rasped vocals arising from the deep dark depths. It all makes for a very evocative album, and there’s no spit and polish here.

Death isn’t pretty, and Ill Omen clearly has no desire to make it so. However, to ram the misery home, the band doesn’t simply rely on chaotic assaults to break the will. It’s the constant pressure the band brings to bear through that deadfall production, throat-gripping sense of impending doom, and all that unremitting wickedness. Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence isn’t an album for anyone looking for some quick-fix blast of black metal, because it’s a 60 minute funeral rite that you need to experience in full. Don’t go looking for any sympathy or reassurance here either. This is where you rot. This is the end.

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1 comment:
  1. An absolutely incredible album. You'd never think he lived in such a sunny environment!