Israthoum - Arrows from Below
New Era Productions
Epic Black Death Metal
6 songs (31'14")
Release year: 2019
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Not known to me heretofore, Israthoum started out as Grendel and moved their residence from Portugal to Netherlands. The reason for the move unclear, Portuguese scene always speaks rawness to me whilst Dutch is first and foremost death metal. Maybe it is that preconceived notion, or me reading the promo sheet for Arrows from Below, but right from the start I was surprised by heaviness, density and dominating bottom end of the album. The meatiness and throbbing physicality of Israthoum is what makes their melodicism, albeit not overly complicated, so much more noticeable.

Drifting between blastbeat with overlayed cleaner tones (Litany of Spite) or deliberate double bassing preceded by doomy piano (Laetetur Cor), Israthoum opens up as a supremely confident march of epic forces, yet showing its apocalyptic, more vulnerable side when cleaner shouts emerge on the more labyrinthine Adlivun. So for the first half of Arrows from Below I still couldn’t quite decide whether the album is more end of the world vision plunging into depths versus the potent darkness rising to the surface. In the end, isn’t it all the same, and Israthoum manages raw blackness and epic death in equal measure.

Having come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be able to separate black from death in this scenario, I have settled into picking finer elements of Israthoum as the album continued to unfold. Slower and tortured Eastern melodies of Bracu Magistris breathe occult, thundering fluidity with towering voices of Ascetic Temples eventually gets stuck in frozen muck, and closer Tuam Vocavit has probably the best melodic moments on the album, akin to rising flames licking the sides of the slowly churning cauldron. Vivid imagery of the horrifying end of Tuam Vocavit is inescapable.

Obviously still distorted, Israthoum has such a powerful sound, at times it becomes transcendentally clear, an unexpected feeling to be experienced on Arrows from Below. Almost a decade ago Finnish Valoton on Beastificate made a similar impression on me. It’s been so long and I still remember. Let’s see if in another ten years (assuming I am around) Arrows from Below can elicit the same memory.

Killing Songs :
Laetetur Cor, Tuam Vocavit
Alex quoted 88 / 100
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