Monday, March 5, 2012

Illnath - Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness

Illnath
Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness
Pitch Black Records

It’s been a long gap between releases for the long running Danish outfit Illnath, but after five years, the Lyngby based outfit are back with their third full-length release ‘Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness’ - which is their first release through Pitch Black Records after parting ways with Worldchaos Production. Although both of the band’s previous releases (2003’s ‘Cast Into Fields Of Evil Pleasure’ and 2006’s ‘Second Skin Of Harlequin’) had their moments, I can’t say that I genuinely got into the band. But with the release of ‘Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness’, Illnath have undergone a complete line-up reshuffle (Vocalist Mona Beck and drummer Dennis Stockmarr have now joined guitarist/keyboardist/song writer Peter Falk and bassist Kenneth Frandsen), which has resulted in a change of musical direction as well.
In the lead up to the release of their new album, the band stated that their melodic black metal sound of the past had been cast aside to make way for a new sound that would take every aspect of the whole sound to new extremes. That, coupled with a whole new line-up had me wondering if Illnath had finally managed to make something that takes the promise of their former releases to a whole new level. The answer of course lies somewhere between a yes and a no.
In terms of direction, Illnath were half correct in their statement. Sure, the melodic black metal sound of the past has been cast aside for the most part. But if the truth be told, Illnath are now very much a melodic death metal band, with tiny traces of traditional/power metal heard throughout ‘Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness’. As for the symphonic tag that the band gets lumped with, the truth is that while keyboards are ever-present within the band’s songs, they’re hardly symphonic.
On the production side of things, ‘Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness’ is by far the band’s strongest and most professional sounding release. And in terms of song writing consistency, it’s clear that the band have really worked hard at refining their songs, earning ‘Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness’ its place as Illnath’s strongest release to date. But while it would appear to be all good news, ‘Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness’ is far from a first class release.
The biggest issue with Illnath is that while they’re good at what they do, I can’t help but feel that they’re nothing more than a clone of Arch Enemy mixed with Children Of Bodom. Part of that Arch Enemy comparison does come down to the fact that Beck is a female vocalist, and does growl in a similar fashion to Angela Gossow. And while she does a more capable job of fronting the band, she doesn’t quite have the same character in her voice that Gossow does.
On the musical side of things, the ten tracks on the album are competent, but nothing really stands out as anything you haven’t heard before from the likes of Arch Enemy or Children Of Bodom in the past. Falk is a great guitarist, but as a song writer, his compositions do come across as kind of faceless at best. As good as album highlights such as the fast paced ‘Fall Of Giants’, the mid-paced ‘Tree Of Life And Death’ and the catchy ‘Lead The Way’ are, they really aren’t all that memorable once the album finishes.
Illnath are an O.K. act, and ‘Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness’ is by far the most accomplished effort the band have put together to date. The problem is that it’s all fairly pedestrian sounding, unadventurous and done infinitely more memorable by others. Hopefully the band will make some attempts to step outside their comfort zone and make something a little more daring and interesting the next time around.

For more information on Illnath, check out - http://www.illnath.dk/

© Justin Donnelly