Isenordal - Spectral Embrace
Eternal Warfare Records
Darkwave Neofolk
6 songs (39'34")
Release year: 2018
Reviewed by Alex

When I first heard Isenordal’s Shores of Mourning I was absolutely blown away. I have listened to an album several times since, and I am still astounded by the combination of dark melodies, polyphonic approach and pressing waves of heaviness. So it is with trepidation that I was sitting down to experience Spectral Embrace. Shores of Mourning was sensational and Spectral Embrace had a lot to live up to. Same number of tracks – six – long philosophical song titles again, but a very different result. No, Spectral Embrace is not atrocious, and it isn’t mediocre, but it is just ... I know I am repeating myself, very different.

When The Sorrow of the Shadowed World unfolded, quiet, reserved, yet full of dark gripping melodies I thought this is a prelude to the explosion. Cello, viola, guitars and whispering male/female vocals continued to caress, the characteristic shaker percussion (persistent throughout the album) evolved into rolling tribal drums, but darkwave neofolk never became the blackened funeral doom. It just could have been one track, sure, but actually Spectral Embrace is that way throughout. Instead of plunging into the depths of despair the album instead offers warm enveloping mysterious series of woodsy worships, the most extreme parts being exalted harsher male vocals bowing to she-goddess (Inevitable Product of the Foretold). Even when some moments of Spectral Embrace (An Entrancing Dream) are more ominous, since they are tuned lower, and Despondent Longing and Phantasmal Communion as well as Dissolution into the Earth have second more disturbing halves, the album is about being very gentle in terms of emotions and extremely harmonic in terms of musical execution. The web of cello, viola, piano, acoustic guitars and shaker (Inevitable Product of the Foretold) moving to a prickling waltz of Despondent Longing and Phantasmal Communion is so touching.

To call Isenordal anything doomy, or worse, anything blackened, is almost insulting. Funeral, possibly, if you think all this beauty is bemoaning someone’s passing. Yet I didn’t get that feeling from Spectral Embrace. With a slow accordion (?) in To Turn Thy Thoughts from the Tree of Life, Isenordal almost sounds like a more naturally produced Summoning, only taking place in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, rather than in some Tolkien land. A solely acoustic Agalloch also can be invoked for comparison. Lose your expectations, forget Shores of Mourning, relax and enjoy. And somehow I am still missing the towering Shores of Mourning ...

Killing Songs :
You will like all or none
Alex quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Isenordal that we have reviewed:
Isenordal - Shores of Mourning reviewed by Alex and quoted 95 / 100
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