Modern metal bands will often add all sorts of odd and extraneous elements to the music. What is most curious and notable, even as one cringes to the sounds of flutes or children’s choirs and such, is not what is in the music but what is lacking in the music: an aggressive, adventurous, feral spirit that is the common element of all metal music. While experimentation, new ideas, and new textures and elements are not in and of themselves bad things, most bands, being the crowdists they are, get the horses of the apocalypse before the meat wagon. As Socrates so sagely reckoned all those years ago, the spirit informs the final shape that the physical body will take – to build the creation without spirit is, in essence, to create something that lacks shape and indeed lacks the very essence of being.
Illunis released their self-titled album approximately 5 years after their initial split release with the band Vaelk. Illunis is a German one man band and the album contains samples from some obscure, shitty French movie from the 1940’s and was apparently recorded in Finland. This confusion in conception couldn’t possibly bleed over into the music, could it? Nah. What is most striking about this album is how forgettable it is. I listened to it three times in an attempt to give it as fair and thorough a review as possible and I can’t recall a single riff or melody. Not a note. The music just lays their, supine, utterly lacking in aggression. In the first song, “Trapped Beneath a Lurking Cloud,” there are a few palm muted riffs followed by a ringing fermata note where the music, like a starving Ethiopian struggling to raise his head from his decumbent position, tries to gather itself into action but otherwise the songs remain prostrate. The band is apparently post-black metal but unlike some of the less terrible post-bands the production is so lackluster that there is simply no atmosphere to pick up where the music is lacking. The one part of this album that is not forgettable is the movie samples: they are jarring, irritating, stupid and caused me to utter such phrases as, “you’ve got to be shitting me,” out loud numerous times throughout the length of the album.
There are some strong point to the album. M, the sole musician besides the session drummer, has written two strong songs. “Memories Unveil the Sooth” does a rather good job of putting together some nondescript riffs and mundane melodies into a compelling structure that does unveil a truth. Not a truth that is worth knowing, and one unveiled by prosaic memories, but a truth nonetheless. “Revelation (coda in C minor)” (this M asshole is pretty pretentious) stitches together tedious, dull music into a compelling structure that tells a story so ordinary that the listener will immediately forget it. For some reason at the end of this preposterously named song the sound engineer pushes the “sound like Transylvanian Hunger” button – perhaps accidentally, perhaps on orders from M for some reason that would only occur to a post-black metal level intellect.
As for the last song, “je vais, je viens, je suis le destin,” perhaps the readers can tell me what the fuck is going on in that one.
In the end, Illunis is a pretty typical hipster post-metal band. The songs are way longer than they need to be; there are ironic(?) references to stupid pop culture; the songs have endless droning sub-sub-Darkthrone two note riffs randomly punctuated by ‘clean’ guitar; when vinyl was at its height of its popularity they only released their music on vinyl, and now that cassettes are the hip thing this album is only on cassette. And that leads me back to my point: Illunis is a collection of exterior parts with nothing inside. Sure, M can write a solid song, but that is a skill that can be learned and developed; melodies and riffs come from the spirit and that is something that one either has or does not have. While this album physically exists, its complete lack of animating spirit certainly makes me wish it did not have corporeal existence.