A dark and cold winter breeze is blowing in your face straight from the pacific north west. The storm is called Vintersea and delivering with their brand new album "Illuminated" a harsh mix between progressive metal, fragile ambient/melodic music and harsh black metal influenced brutality.
Now with a label in their back, M-Theory Audio, the band releases their second full length. After "The Gravity of Fall" and "Asterion/Constellations" EP, Vintersea catapult themselfs to another level of advanced songwriting. It is just beautiful to see how this band evolved from the first tracks, over the first LP until Illuminated!
They throw everything in the game what they like and push their abilities to the limit. The 5 piece created a special piece of music in which every song is a special masterpiece by itself. The 39 minute long album can be seen as a concept album but just to describe its' entirety is not catching the whole picture. Let's join me in this review on a journey the band has taken me while listening.
After watching Avienne's livestream talking about the album's concept I understand more the structure of the album from beginning to the end. It is like life itself, starting with life until Death. All elements are there, different steps inside of a lifetime. So you can see the journey also as a flashback before the curtain falls, combined with an environmental touch that adresses Gaia - the mother Earth.
The six different chapters are Life, Civil, Calm, Storms, Savage and Death. That describes the deeper meanings of the songs and I will mark each one with the chapter.
Illuminated starts off with cold and darkness embracing riffs to the song "Spawn Awakening". The gravity of the frozen atmosphere soacks you in while it gives you also room to catch breath with melodic and emotional clean vocals delivered by Avienne.
What you will face on this record from beginning to the end is that not just Avienne with her vocals but the whole band is mastering the thin line between heavy, brutal music and melodic ambience. A lot of bands will stumble and fall while trying to follow this.
The second song "Old Ones" is starting the other way around with melody and clean singing. As you fall into the strong structure you will get ripped out of your comfort zone with extreme screaming and shredding guitars which will not lose their playfulness over the song. The track is very balanced between both elements and ends with an atmopsheric outro to built up more tension for the next songs comming.
I also can understand why Vintersea took "Old Ones" as their third single. After the melodic title track "Illuminated" and the harsh Black Metal driven "Befallen", the song shows perfectly the merge of both elements I mentioned before which will draw their lines through the whole album.
The title track "Illuminated" was the first single and really surprised me when it came out. It was very much different to the material from "The Gravity of Fall". Much more melodic and epic. I needed some more spins to get into it but each time it gets better and better. There is so much to explore in it. The emotional singing, the guitar melodies and coordinated rhythms. It is just a beautiful and modern metal track which can be enjoyed from fans of harsh music but at the same time also melodic fans (or so called mainstream listeners ;) ).
The band definitly breaks boundaries here and on the whole abum. I also didn't expect the changing at the end of the song when Avienne's vocals changed in brutal sreaming and growling. Pure goosebump moment! I would have loved to hear more of this on the track but the album awaits with enough fury comming over you!
Track number 4, "Crack of Light", is in my opinion the most experimental track. It has a lot of melody, darkness, brutality and strange rhythm in it. You need to face this by yourself to see every detail. I am struggling to describe it but I can tell you that the jazzy elements surprisingly built in will blow you away or leave you without understanding. For me this is the least accessible song on the album. You will propably need some more listens to get into it but trust me, it is definitly worth it!
My absolut surprise track of the album is the next one called "Fiery Tongue"! It is an symphonic black metal orchestra song which could have come from Fleshgod Apocalypse collaborating with Dimmu Borgir. It is as extrem as from the mentioned bands but Vintersea is making this sound to their own. They don't lose their trademarks created with this album over the whole track. The end of this song is breath taking when Avienne brings everything to table with her melodic and ambient singing voice. It reminds you to a movie soundtrack like Gladiator or the end Theme version of the Fifth Element song "Little light of love". Brilliant!!!
The album ends with the most direct and brutal track. Befallen is total black metal driven brutality. Avienne is showing here her full ability to deliver screams and growls. She could definitly also sing in more extreme bands without any doubt. The guitars are very much influenced from norwegian and swedish Black Metal Music. I was reminded of some Dimmu Borgir and Immortal tunes while the band is never losing their identity within the songwriting.
With all that said you have a full package of purity and dirt mixed to something pure to explore. Face reality and the depths of "Illuminated"!
Rate for yourself but it is just honest art! 10 / 10 Hate it or love it!