Distributor/label: Finisterian Dead End
Distributor/label URL: finisteriandeadend.com/en/
Buy Album [URL]: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Return-Ixion/dp/B075SM7VYH/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515178939&sr=8-1&keywords=ixion+return
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/ixiondoom/
1. Out of the Dark
2. Into Her Light
3. Hanging in the Sky
4. Back Home
5. The Ocean
7. World of Silence
9. The Dive (Fade to Blue Part 2)
French atmospheric doom band Ixion started in 2004 as a solo effort, by primary composer and multi-instrumentalist Julien Prat. In 2006, the project turned into a duo when vocalist Thomas Saundrey joined, and in the same year, Ixion added their third member, Yannick Dilley. He is the producer of the music and provides second vocals. Fully formed, they released their debut album in 2011 through Avantgarde Music, and in 2015, they unleashed their highly praised second LP ‘Enfant de la Nuit’. They have just released their third album ‘Return’. Everything on it was composed, performed and produced by Julien Prat and Yannick Dilly at 28978 Studio and Nevermind Records Studio.
I have to say, Ixion writes some pretty laid back and soft doom metal, relatively speaking. Avantgarde Music has released some really grim stuff, and if you’ve heard their group, Unholy, you’ll know what I mean. There are some parts of this release which seem to belong on some kind of chillout record, even; for example the intro, airy acoustic guitars and keys in ‘Hanging in the Sky’. Although eerie, ‘Into Her Light’ is even in a major key! Don’t fret though, amazingly this album pulls off its dark side, as well. You just have to wait a little for those bleaker moments, like one has to wait for anything that is great in life. You can expect down-tuned guitars, beast-like growls, plodding, slow(ish) tempos and a general sense of hopelessness. Classic doom.
What gives this music its frequent dark beauty is the way everything is musically ‘correct’. (In a way), it was written as seriously as film composers write their music, and this is what makes it so satisfying to listen to. All instruments are blended together and give off the same ethereal vibe, and consequently, there are no distractions. You can just lie back and listen, be transported somewhere else nice and creepy, and take time to reflect. That is what sets this group apart from acts such as Candlemass. They work is more violent and moshable, with evil note choices. Some of it is also quite a lot faster and with more flashy and wild guitar playing. However, if you’re assuming that you can’t rock out to Ixion’s stuff because instrumental pyrotechnics and thrash metal-style thrills are pretty much non-existent, you’re wrong. But maybe you need to listen to it that little bit louder than other heavier bands, to get the same high.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of this album is its lack of variety. Everything starts off perfectly fine, but it isn’t too long before the sense of monotony kicks in. It’s completely normal for doom metal artists to want to write mentally taxing music, but no one wants to bore their audience. Whilst often soothing because of the very typical note choices and harmony, (typical of much lighter music, I mean) the LP also suffers from being quite plain. Instrumentally, things are equally predictable.
All in all, however, you won’t often find doom metal that isn’t afraid to push boundaries in the opposite extreme than most, and who want to be brighter. That should be celebrated, as trying to be heavier and more morbid than everyone else gets predictable. This album is definitely worth adding to any doom collection.
Review by Simon Wiedemann