Label: A389 Recordings
The first experience I had of Ilsa was in a cramped basement in DC on tour. The band has to be the most motley crew of individuals. They don't fit the mold of the typical death metal band, nor do they look like the token (pun intended) sludge/stoner band. But who cares about that because when they started to play they blew me away. Super heavy and crushing Death infused Sludge (or sludge infused Death Metal it doesn't really matter) with seriously killer vocals. I am ashamed to say despite their excellent performance, and the sheer amount of times that people told me to listen to their records, I have to admit that sitting down with their new record is the first time I have had a chance to check them out recorded.
The first thing that you hear when listening to the record is an introduction. Arguably the introduction is perfect set up for the mood of the rest of the record. It isn't going to catch you by surprise or force your attention, but it is an interesting and minimal start for what will become quite an interesting record. I would love if the first notes of the record, in juxtaposition with the intro, hit a bit more aggressively but this is something that I had to abandon early, because while the record is very evil and heavy it doesn't really have the bite and the intensity of the typical Death Metal record. I have to admit that I wanted it to be something it really isn't at first, something that within a few minutes I realized it shouldn't be. I wanted it to be more swedish death metal, with not necessarily the HM2 sound but a bit more chainsaw buzz to the guitar. But it is important to know that this is not a Death Metal record, I actually think it is closer to a true sludge record, so what should you expect, super doomy guitar tones that aren't going to rip open your ear drums, but will pound you head down.
If you go into this record wanted to typical flavor of the year, cookie cutter entombed worship, you are doing yourself a disservice. Ilsa have crafted a sound so much more interesting than that, so much more creative. They take aspects of many different metal genres, and from them create Ilsa. I would highly recommend this record, but it is definitely not for everyone. If you have a short attention span, if you like your metal to be fast always, or if you are not open minded enough to give it a shot then you may want to pass on this record, but if you like your metal fast and then slow, if you like your doom to be filled with drone, then you may be waiting on your favorite record of the year.