Distributor/label URL: Independent
Buy Album: https://ischemic.bandcamp.com/album/stagnation-woe-2
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/Ischemic
2. Carrion Kingdom
5. Cerebral Pestilence
7. Murk Within Marrow
Ischemic are a black/death/doom metal band from Toronto, Ontario in Canada, who formed in 2012. They independently released their first full length album ‘Stagnation and Woe’ in 2018 and that will be the subject of this review. It follows two demo albums ‘Ischemic’ and ‘Frigid Descent’; an EP called ‘All Paths Lead Nowhere’; and a single called ‘Filth’, which features on the album in question. Three years later, they would release their latest LP, simply called ‘Ischemic’.
Stagnation and Woe is not a happy album. At its very worst, it is truly horrifying in fact. The second track ‘Carrion Kingdom’ is perhaps their most extreme, going from raging tremolo picked guitars that play some of the most panicky and ugly chords you’ll ever hear, to a crushing and disturbing chord progression that gets slower and slower, creating images of a massive monster dying in a very gruesome and prolonged way and falling to the ground. As the release is so varied with its reasonably wide range of musical styles, certainly don’t expect the rest of the album to be so – let’s be frank – demented. It is a journey in blackness, and you’ll never know what’s just a few meters in front of you. Whatever ever it is, it’s unlikely to be nice, but there is still moonlight, figuratively speaking. It’s not exactly proggy in style, but you get intelligent harmonies with the whole band contributing something different to the sound and more basic power chord sections where everyone plays more as one.
The chromatic riffing in the final track, starting at 3:32 is definitely creepy, but at the same time is strangely fun and not quite so hard to take. Thrash bands such as Slayer spring to mind, in their mid tempo sections. Especially when the ostinato gets harmonised. Guthrie Govan fans could even compare it to the stuff in his ‘Erotic Cakes’! Having said that, such catchiness is a little lacking at times in the album as a whole, and there were moments where I was wanting more traditional death metal hooks, rather than chilling guitar harmonies. The drumming is completely fine throughout the release but it could do with some more power to make it a more thrilling experience, especially in the fills. Some parts in track ‘Marasmus’ are far from crushing and have more of a traditional metal sound, with calmer and more thoughtful chord progressions, almost chilled out lead guitar parts and sections of acoustic guitar playing. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
In conclusion, Ischemic aren’t really doing anything too original for the most part (I’m reminded of acts such as Isole), but they ARE more adventurous than the vast majority of extreme metal bands out there. They’re even more extreme than many extreme bands in places, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Like chomping on a rancid ghost pepper! The way the faster tempos are contrasted with slower ones is effective, as even hardened extreme fans can get tired of constant insanity. Having said that, the more moderate tempos are not nice! Ischemic are more thoughtful, yet their music is still unpretentious. Their intellect doesn’t spoil things in the slightest, rather it stop things getting dull. Hardcore super purists may complain that the band are a just tiny bit mellow in very occasional areas, (relatively speaking of course) but they won’t be so cocky when they hear the band in violent mode. :O Recommended!