Illnath – Third Act in the Theatre of Madness
Third Act in the Theatre of Madness
Sometimes I’ll find an album from a genre I’m not the biggest fan of and it’ll blow me away from start to finish, so much so that I’ll immediately go back to hear it again right after, just to make sure I wasn’t going insane and the album really was as good as it initially seemed. Such is the case with Third Act in the Theatre of Madness, the latest from Danish band Illnath. See, the band happens to play Melodic Black Metal, a genre I often enjoy, and feel comfortable reviewing, but up to this point I had never heard such an album I just couldn’t pull myself away from.
In many ways this is not your typical MBM album, as musically a lot of their songs are very much Power Metal influenced, which must have something to do with me loving the album the way I do. It’s also very epic at points, and surprisingly catchy for this kind of music. It is still fairly brutal at points, and requires the volume to be fairly high to get the full effect of many of the songs. One point of contention I often have is with growls: I don’t always dislike them, but I find there’s about a 50/50 chance that whenever I go to listen to any album where the growls make up the majority of the vocals, I’ll struggle to make it through. As soon as I heard the vocals here, I knew they would not be an issue, as they are perfectly executed Black Metal growls, always in the lower range and they never become grating even at the more aggressive spots. The vocalist here also articulates very well, so it’s surprisingly easy to make out the lyrics. But I was even more impressed when I went to the band’s official website to get the name of the vocalist (apparently a new addition): Mona Beck. Wow! I never would have guessed it was a woman, as the only obvious female vocals I hear are clean, so I originally thought it was a guest. Needless to say, Mona does a fantastic job and should not turn off any fans of the band.
The title track certainly lives up to it’s name. It’s one of the heavier songs on the album, and quickly introduces some symphonic elements, which pop up from time to time. It does indeed have a theatrical feel to it at times, but in a very dark and twisted way. Some of the sounds they manage to pull off here are simply genius, it must be said. There are also some voice clips of maniacal laughter at one part, and this works quite well, adding some of the “madness”. Overall, it’s one of the more pure Melodic Black Metal songs on the album, but with some nice twists and turns throughout, including the introduction of Mona’s clean vocals, which are further highlighted in the chorus of “Scarecrow” where she does some nice backing vocals to go along with her usual growls. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Black Metal of any kind that I enjoy as much as “Third Act”, so it would have been somewhat expected if the rest of the album was a let down…..
It isn’t. As I said before, many of the songs have some Power Metal influences, and this is a good thing, because I generally prefer my music to be fast-paced and songs like “Shorthanded”, “Scarecrow” and “Fall Of Giants” are very fast. The latter two of these are pretty awesome, while “Shorthanded” is just a masterpiece, with aggressive riffing and double bass drumming in the verses, sick growls in the chorus, and some beautiful melodies from guitarist Pete Falk. “Spring Will Come” is probably the most epic and melodic on the entire album and is another stand out. There’s also some more subtle, but equally impressive songs like “Snake Of Eden” and “Tree Of Life And Death”.
Usually I try to point out the flaws of an album, or at least a couple weaker songs, but I have to admit there really is nothing I don’t love about this album. As far as Melodic Black Metal goes, all of these songs are perfect and even after five listens I see myself going through them all several more times. To reiterate what I said about the title track: I’ve never heard Black Metal of any kind that I’ve enjoyed as much as this album and I’ll be shocked if I ever do. Except maybe from Illnath again. Brilliant stuff.
Travis Green’s rating: 5 out of 5