Immortal Souls - IV: The Requiem for the Art of Death

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Band: Immortal Souls
Title: IV: The Requiem for the Art of Death
Label: Dark Balance (Facedown Records for U.S. distribution)
Release Date: October 1, 2011
Reviewer: Taylor C.

Tracklisting:

  1. Art Of Death Act I: Soulbells
  2. Evil Believer
  3. Nuclear Winter
  4. I Wept
  5. Absolution
  6. Art Of Death Act II: The Last Journey
  7. Reek Of Rotting Rye
  8. Last Day On Earth
  9. Hypnotic Atrocity
  10. Thoughts Of Desolation
  11. One Last Withering Rose
  12. Art of Death Act II: The Requiem of the Funeral Eve

It seems that April is upon us—the month which T.S. Eliot describes as “the cruelest.” I hate spring too, so let’s take a temporary journey back to the colder parts of late 2011.

Half metal, half ice, it’s no surprise that the band Immortal Souls “hails” from Finland—the freezing land where amazing metal seems to surge. Since 1991, the band has lived up to the Finnish standard and developed a distinctive sound and atmosphere with their music that they appropriately call winter metal. In the vein of similarly named “genres,” like Viking metal, ocean metal, swamp metal, pirate metal, troll metal (even Christian metal), where the adjective generally describes the lyrical content, Immortal Souls uses wintery metaphors and imagery to convey both spiritual and physical concepts that are beautiful, cold and refreshing. If I had to compare their music to something, I would say it’s like getting a brain freeze from mint chocolate-chip ice cream.

As far as sticking with the icy imagery and technical melodies, IV: The Requiem For The Art Of Death is no different than any of Immortal Souls’ past releases. However, I did find that the album is a lot darker than their previous work—both musically and lyrically. Even the cover’s artwork breaks from their traditional frozen landscape theme of past albums and shows a rotted body lying in a shallow grave. According to an article uploaded to their Facebook, the Särkioja brothers (vocals, bass and lead guitar) suffered through their father’s death during the album’s creation, and I think it shows through the sinister riffs, emotionally driven vocals, and lyrics that center around physical death, spiritual confusion, and acceptance of mortality. In short, the theme of this release is death, but it isn’t like the typical bands that do it for kicks; IV is a very mature album—genuine and human—driven by furious passion.

The composition of the album itself is great. A lot of melodic death metal bands have trouble creating songs that are distinguishable from the other tracks, but here there’s no mistaking which song is which. Each song has a riff and rhythm that is its own, and occasionally, like the cleanly vocalized “One Last Withering Rose,” breaks out of the genre’s confines and into one or more of its primary influences. Still, the band manages to retain its well known sound in songs like “Nuclear Winter”—the fast and complex guitar work of E. Särkioja and Pekkarinen, backed by Kronqvist’s insane drumming, all march in sync with A. Särkioja’s wolverine snarls and thick bass riffs. Also noteworthy are the Art of Death Acts I, II and III that provide the listener with a haunting instrumental/church-bell opening, another instrumental near the middle, and, finally, a nine-minute conclusion which incorporates the first two melodies and themes into a gloomy requiem.

The lyrics also play a huge roll what makes IV such a great listen. Along with his trademark winter imagery, A. Särkioja creates an emotionally rollercoaster of concepts that range from the spiritual doubts of “Evil Believer” to the spiritual submission of “Absolution.” Even more impressive than the lyrical content is the music’s ability to compliment it perfectly. For example, “Reek of Rotting Rye” is one of the album’s darkest songs whose main riff just smells nasty, and the psychotic riffs and guitar solos of “Hypnotic Atrocity” fit wildly with the deliciously paranoid, lyrical theme of wicked confrontation:

Gather words in this heap. Is this Christianity? I proudly take this leap, to haven of insanity… Hypnotic atrocity, Schizophrenic antagonist, Transorbital lobotomy, Hypnotic atrocity.”

I feel like I’m in a straightjacket when listening to this song—it’s awesome.

As a side note, you can check out Immortal Souls’ Facebook and hear a track called “Blood for Blood” that was omitted from the final cut. It’s a sick track that goes well with the entire album; other than time constraints, I don’t know why it was left off.

Overall: Hi! I know this review is extremely long, but IV: The Requiem For The Art Of Death is an amazing work of art that every fan of melodic death metal or 80’s-styled technical metal should check out. The music, lyrics, themes and artwork fit together like puzzle pieces. In short, Immortal Souls has created yet another frozen masterpiece that is such a great combination of ice and metal that your tongue might stick.

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