Previously named Aetherium Mors, this is the band’s first release under its new moniker. This is modern, dissonant black metal that’s been hybridised with death metal and energised with melodic darkness.
The overall mixture of dissonance, melody, atmosphere, and brutality on Itheist is a beguiling and seductive one. This is an album capable of drawing you in and immersing you in dark, elemental atmospheres, before suddenly unleashing daemonic fury and searing your soul with Hellish fires.
Dissonant melodies are judiciously employed across the songs, making for an unnerving, unsettling listen in places. In others it produces a curiously life-affirming feeling, which is especially unusual as these melodies are surrounded by such grim nastiness most of the time. In fact, these melodies are frequently standout moments on this album, and help to differentiate Itheist’s dissonant extreme metal from others, (although this is not the only aspect of the music that does this).
This is not an album of songs in the classic sense. Nor is it a catchy album full of instant-appeal riffs and memorable structures. If you approach it in these terms you’ll surely be disappointed. No, this is a black/death metal album that’s structured to flow holistically, in a jagged, spiky, unfriendly way. Viewed as a whole, and engrossed in its dark atmosphere is the best way to engage with Itheist, and engaging it is when taken this way.
Frequently complex, but never overwhelmingly so, the songwriting demonstrated on this album is at an obviously advanced level, and this is not a band that want to be easily compared to others. Which is something to be commended, of course. That’s not to say that this is unique, (what is?), but that Itheist are obviously more concerned with exploring their own carved-out corner of the extreme metal landscape than overtly paying attention to what’s going on elsewhere. At a push I’d mention bands such as Suffering Hour, Deathspell Omega, Ulsect, Altarage, and Akercocke, but these offer only general stylistic guidance to Itheist’s sound, rather than a comprehensive tour.