Ischemic – Ischemic Review

As 2021 continues to be the DLC to 2020 that absolutely nobody asked for or wanted, bands are using the downtime due to lack of touring and promotion to work diligently on their musical output. Some bands, such as Toronto’s Ischemic, are even going as far as to record and mix their own music, further driving home the fact that DIY can’t, and won’t, be stopped. Not by pandemics, not by lockdowns, not by lack of touring. It’s this admirable and, quite frankly, necessary approach that will eventually separate the diehards from the pack, and on the band’s self-titled second full-length, they didn’t let the pandemic get in the way.

And if opener “Scabs” is any indication, Ischemic reveals a young band with a ton of promise. While their one-sheet lists a broad spectrum of bands such as Fuck the Facts, Autopsy, and Thorr’s Hammer, I’m hearing The Karelian Isthmus-era Amorphis. Definitely not a bad thing at all, as the riffing, while slow and plodding, fits the atmosphere like a glove. Far and away, though, vocalist Isabelle Tazbir’s blackened shrieks and subterranean guttural growls propel the mood further, never wavering in intensity or clarity. In just over six minutes, Ischemic display a strong knack for atmosphere and songwriting, all hinting at what’s in store for this band still early in its existence.

It pains me that the same can’t be said about the other three tracks, though. The problem here lies with the fact that each of the three songs, two at over eleven minutes and closer “Scattering Garden” at over twenty-two, all have parts that don’t flow together well at all, and could have easily been broken down into two, maybe three, separate songs each with no problem. “Scattering Garden” is the biggest offender of the bunch as, besides the lofty-if-long opening tranquil guitar melody and somber closing section, there were at least five different song ideas that make about as much sense together as former WWF wrestler Ahmed Johnson’s ability to wear 713 kneepads simultaneously. Just because you technically can pull something like that off doesn’t necessarily mean you should. It’s better to tighten and edit what’s not needed, or break these pieces down to something that flows better and leaves a lasting impression.

The other problem lies in drummer Mrudul Kamble’s mixing and production. When things are slow and plodding, the mix is just fine, and it harkens back to the death/doom sound of Autopsy’s heyday. However, when the band starts blasting and going into tremolo riffing, the bass drum is muffled and buried, which is odd as Kamble’s drumming is actually pretty damn good. So for him to mix his own instrument like that is a strange choice. Then again, this could be the byproduct of doing everything yourself, and I can’t knock it too hard. Let’s face it, this is a ridiculously difficult and shitty time for anyone to try to make or record music, so for anyone to do so on their own terms right now is commendable.

Which is why it’s so difficult to grade this album. Tazbir possesses an incredible voice for death/doom, her bandmates are more-than-competent musicians who can navigate around their instruments, and “Scabs” is a fantastic glimpse of what’s to come from Ischemic. Sadly, there are three other songs on here that aren’t nearly at that level, and it’s difficult to recommend Ischemic because of it. That said, I believe great things are in store for them if they can just keep at it with their musicianship and songwriting, because there is so much potential here, and they’re on the right path. They’ve just got to learn to tighten and edit first.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 2nd, 2021

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