Itzamna - Chascade Cover One of the may reasons Kronos is more trve than you is that he delves deep into the underground in search of the most obscure sounds in the metal world. The depths of depravity, the spine-twisting abominations that he unearths will challenge your very conception of brutality. Sometimes. Other times, Kronos‘ musically omnivorous bandmates make him grudgingly listen to a French prog/jazz/math/djent band and he really, really likes it.

Such was the case with Itzamna‘s Metnal EP, which was sold to me as sounding like a collage of Animals as Leaders and Tigran Hamasyan. And that it did, combining chunky grooves with wild piano lines, klezmer flourishes, and a host of odd instrumentation. The band seemed relentlessly creative and willing to use whatever instruments, techniques and styles were at their disposal. But despite their youth, the songs were reined in and cohesive, even when navigating multiple shifts in tempo, time, and genre. When the full-length Chascade was announced I was excited to see what the band had thought up next.

It’s something else. Waltzing in with a singular Frenchness, “Crippled Monk” begins the journey with a gentile coax forward, to which “Chascade” gingerly obliges. Its melody appears tenderly, shared by piano and guitar as if they’re just trying it out; the band sets out the melody with a sense of caution, but by the end of the song, it’s soaring atop strings  and a chunky bass. When Itzamna hit a stride, they do so knowingly and with no want of forethought. Moments of peace slip between playful scrambles across the keyboard and powerful rhythmic surges; blissed-out post rock in “Chascade” and “Buakaw (Kills the Palm Tree). Things never arrive without foreshadowing, and the occasional vocals allow the performers to shine without undermining the album’s musical focus.

itzamna band 2016

Though the album spills a little surprise every few steps, it’s the closing number, “Dies Veniet” that’s a real bolt from the blue. One minute it’s chapel choir chant and the next it peels off into the sunset on the back of a bronco, and the transition from Rome to dusty Madrid and back again is an ending as triumphant as it is idiosyncratic. The production, handled by Clément Belio allows for vast jumps in style to slide by without a hitch, but its very clean tones and middling dynamic range belie djent roots. I’d like to hear a bit more grit and looseness from a band with such a clear interest in jazz.

There’s a lot to sink your teeth into between the covers of Chascade, but the work as a whole isn’t as compelling as its pieces. The album feels very much like an anthology and even the “Shalam” suite in the middle of things is incohesive. Too often the band takes a step back when they could have powered forward or winks when they should have spoken. Furthermore, the album’s inclusion of the ultimate peeve – a throwaway hidden track ending – even undermines what could be the best song on the disc.

Despite its overall lack of direction, Chascade makes for an intriguing and often quite rewarding listen that almost accomplishes the mighty task of total genre agnosticism. Itzamna sound like no one else, yet their biggest challenge moving forward will be sounding more like themselves. The band need to forge a more solid identity by managing their myriad influences and outsized creativity. With a bit of fat trimming here, a few tough decisions there, and Chascade could be a great debut LP, but like many young bands, Itzamna spread themselves thin trying to squeeze everything they have to say into one work. Nonetheless, their music at its best is beautiful and detailed as anyone else’s, and for those willing to dig, Chascade has gems just beneath the surface.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: itzamna.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/itzamna
Releases Worldwide: October 14, 2016

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  • Diego Molero

    I really don’t like when bands do that whole “hidden track” thing, seems kind of useless to me. This band seems interesting on paper though, I will check the EP and if I like I will check the album.

    • Kronos

      I really hate hidden tracks. The only time I’ve been OK with it is on Fair to Midland’s “The Geeener Grass” because they earned it with a basically perfect album beforehand.

      • Diego Molero

        “basically perfect album”. That sounds like something I need to check out.

        • Kronos

          5/5 complete classic. Just don’t expect brutality.

          • Diego Molero

            Oh I don’t mind, I mean, I love brutality (and Brutality), but I like a lot of things as long as they are good.

      • GardensTale

        This got me to check them out and the first song of Arrows already sounds really, really good. Thanks!

        • Kronos

          Oh you’re in for a great time.

  • Eli Valcik

    I’m exited to read your review about Khemmis’ new album. That is if you are even reviewing it.

    • Kronos

      It will be covered here, but not by me.

      • Eli Valcik

        Neat

      • Nathan McCain

        How are you liking the advance tracks from Shrines of Paralysis?

        • Kronos

          I’ve actually not heard them since Ulcerate works so well as a band that does albums.

  • Eli Valcik

    This album is way too happy for someone as evil as myself.

  • Waterfalls going upwards… That means it’s filmed in the southern hemisphere, right?
    Otherwise, this was rather uninteresting.

  • Malev Draizhen

    Beautiful album cover

  • Zephyrus

    Album art makes me want to dig this record way more than the music does, sadly.

  • GREEN MIST BLINDS

    wow i wasn’t expecting this. if all the keyboard was guitar it would be incredible

  • brklyner

    This song reminds me of when I first started playing around with garageband. You just start recording. Four bars of this, four bars of that, four bars of something slightly different, then four bars of the same thing but more jangly, and we’ll find out where the “song” is going when we get there. Except these guys are technically on a much higher level. Elevator music made by and for people with short attention spans.

  • Willem Stander

    I like this a lot.

  • John Abraham

    Sir where is the record o’ the month and review of new Eye of Solitude?