"New Shape / Ipos" (CD)
"New Shape / Ipos" track listing:
1. Crimson Sky (10:50)
2. New Shape (4:26)
3. Untitled 16 (2:12)
4. I.P.O.S. (6:52)
5. Odhin (7:50)
Reviewed by xFiruath on November 11, 2010
The phrase “self-released split album from underground black metal bands” doesn’t usually inspire confidence in the quality of sound to come, or create much hope in hearing anything interesting. In this case any fear of absolutely unlistenable music is completely unfounded, as “New Shape / Ipos” is a surprisingly appealing addition to the world of lesser known black metal. There are ups and downs to be found, but even the downs only showcase how much potential the bands have and raise anticipation for what’s still to come.
The split consists of two offerings from Undivine Essence and three from Nature’s Elements, with both bands based in Israel. Opener “Crimson Sky” is unquestionably the gem of the split, and a massive one at that, clocking in just shy of 11 minutes. The sound quality of the Undivine Essence tracks are an unexpected treat, as there isn’t anything “necro” going on here. It may not be as crystal clear as something from Dimmu Borgir, but all the sounds are crisp and even the background elements are very clear.
The opening track doesn’t stick to traditional black metal at all, threading guitar work throughout the background and then bringing it back to the forefront in a melodic and somewhat ethereal way. The whole track has a mesmerizing feel, lulling in an unsuspecting crowd and making every moment of the massive play length count. A few guitar effects get thrown in towards the end for a symphonic splash without actually using any keyboards. Overall the song settles on “melancholy” instead of “depressing,” twisting the standard black metal formula.
“New Shape” is less of a home run, but still an interesting listen. Unfortunately the song shows where Undivine Essence still has room for improvement in how the music is arranged. The clean vocals layered underneath the black metal rasps are muffled and give the song a disorganized feel, along with a few awkward transitions.
Nature’s Elements starts off with “Untitled 16,” which is a fuzzy and muted symphonic affair that heads into folk territory. Oddly enough, the following two tracks then have almost no folk influence to be heard. “I.P.O.S.” is full-on old school, European style black metal with a more muted sound quality. The song sticks strongly to traditional black metal, complete with blast beats galore.
“Odhin” finishes off the split on a more attention-grabbing note for Nature’s Elements. Although there isn’t a whole lot of experimentation and it doesn’t branch outside of black metal too much, it is a compelling song with a strong bass presence and a few unexpected developments. Thrash-based guitar riffs that get the fists pumping in the air pop out of nowhere half way through the track, and the second half of the song features a fair number of transitions with clean chanting and other vocal variations.
While none of the songs are completely perfect, “New Shape / Ipos” is one of those rare splits from unknown bands that‘s actually worth the attention of the black metal fan base as a whole, instead of just die hard underground enthusiasts. In particular, Undivine Essence shows off a melodic and atmospheric presence that is more appealing than the vast majority of the black metal horde. Both bands have something to offer, and hopefully will continue to refine their sounds and put out even better full-lengths in the future.
Highs: The 11 minute monster "Crimson Sky" puts a melodic and mesmerizing spin on black metal.
Lows: All of the songs could use a little better arranging, and "I.P.O.S." is pretty standard old school black metal without anything new.
Bottom line: A surprisingly high quality split from two underground Israeli black metal bands with some interesting sounds to offer.