Istapp
The Insidious Star

Last year I went through a pretty hardcore phase of melodic black metal where I was listening to classic like Dissection, Catamenia, Vinterland, and Sacramentum, as well as newer bands like Thormesis, Vindland, Wormwood and Störtregn. Somehow though, I completely overlooked Sweden’s Istapp (“icicle”) and their 2010 album, Blekinge and 2015 album, Frostbitten. But that has changed since I stumbled across their newest 2019 release, The Insidious Star.

Holy crap are these guys good. Absolutely perfect, frosty, melodic razor sharp, super melodic black metal that imbues their classic peers and has a bristling, clean modern edge. Throw is some very cool Vintersorg like clean vocals, and you have a recipe for one of the best albums in the style of the last few years and certainly the best so far in 2019. As with the band’s prior releases, the songs (sung in both English and Swedish) are largely based around all things cold and frosty ( “Eternal Winter”, “Snowball Earth”, “The Alliance of Cold”) , and the music is equally as frigid, where you can feel the temperature drop and see your breath when you are playing the album.

“Eternal Winter” opens the album up, and its a fucking ripper, with a catchy as hell chorus that would have been a good sound track for Game of Thrones battle scenes . Other ice shard whirlwinds include “Natten då Gud blundade (1888)”, with its delectable clean vocal opening and chorus, “Muspelheim”  and “The Alliance of Cold” . There are also some nicely tempered, mellower numbers like “Dit solen aldrig når”, “Snowball Earth”, the title track, the Viking ish sway of “Vita döden” and closer “Orrekule”, but they still retain a superb melodic frosty majesty. All glistening with the perfectly frigid rasp of vocalist/guitarist Tizheruk, but it’s where bassist Gangleri jumps in with his impressive Andreas Hedlund (Vintersorg, Borknagar, Otyg) clean croons where both styles deliver breathtaking moments.

It takes a special album for me to immediately jump on line and buy all the band’s prior releases ( I think Blind Guardian was the last one), and this had me do exactly that before I had even heard the promo one time through, it’s that good, and a sure fire entry onto my 2019 list for any style, not just black metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 20th, 2019

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