Ilium – Genetic Memory
Well, once again I was given an album from a band I’d never heard of, but unlike Skylark, this isn’t the nadir of musicality. Ilium, at their most basic, sound like HammerFall if they were fronted by a Hansi Kürsch sound-alike.
“So, they’re Persuader?”
Almost. Genetic Memory doesn’t approach the awesomeness of The Hunter or Evolution Purgatory, however, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, and it’s also a good point of comparison. Genetic Memory does suffer a bit from every song being roughly the same tempo, with only the drums or guitars going double or half time to change the overall feel of the songs. So, every song tends to run through the next for about an hour. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the individual songs are all quite good.
The keyboards and drums are about as basic as you’ll see in power metal, but the keyboards are pretty much a background filler more than anything. The drums are, in essence, the only thing used to differentiate between “fast” and “slow.” Not always a bad thing, but if the only reason you like Rush is because Neil Peart is your hero, this might not be for you.
The guitars, fortunately, are the driving force in the mix, with several great riffs in each song, and solos and overall structure reminiscent of Teutonic power metal (Edguy, Gamma Ray, and so on). The opener “Kinæsthesia” and the follow-up “Littoria” are both great examples of Genetic Memory as a whole; both are of moderate length (three and a half and five minutes, respectively), a very solid core of riffs, and Mike diMeo’s soaring-yet-raspy vocal delivery. However, even after a few listens, I still can’t pick out a song by a riff because everything is so similar. As awesome as a song like “Fire At Will” is, I couldn’t stand an entire album of a dozen different iterations. And that’s what sets this about from a great album like The Hunter.
The closer, “Irrinja,” tries to mix it up a bit, with a brooding didgeridoo intro into a further clean guitar intro, but erupts into more-of-the-same 150 beats-a-minute metal riffage that’s graced the last 50 minutes of music. This time, it’s about 9 minutes of power-metal-by-numbers. And, unlike a typical eight-to-twelve minute power metal epic, there aren’t any real changes aside from your typical “feel” shifts from changing the drum beats, so it drags on rather than evolving like a “Child In Time” or a “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.”
That said, “Ephemeral” and the title track stand out a bit more from the pack, mostly because they have the best riffs and slightly catchier choruses. I really can’t say anything bad about this album, as nothing stands out as being bad or even close-to-bad. But, it’s also hard to say something good when you feel like your stereo has been stuck on “repeat” for the past 62 minutes. If you want the most generic power metal the genre has to offer, this is an album for you. If you want more varied power metal, might I suggest some Lost Horizon?
Kylie’s Rating: 3.0 out of 5