Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Killin' y'all with musical power to vanquish all - Ikillya's Vae Victus

FOR those of you who were there, NYC's Ikillya delivered a storming set at Belfast's Limelight2 as they undertook the touring cycle for their second full release, Vae Victis. And, it is fair to say that we have been a little bit tardy in getting round to reviewing this stunning album.

Having it plugged firmly onto the iPod's playlist, having other members of the team describe it as "perfect for the gym", and "fuck yea! I Like!" it has become that rare beast, a release that captures you first time, and keeps on giving.

Ikillya are not, by any stretch of the imagination a one-trick pony, and while the normally reliable Encyclopaedia Metallum describes them as thrash, groove metal, and metal core (we searched the album for metalcore but it wasn't there!) this is a band that have many more styles and genres beneath their assault.

By way of osmosis they have adsorbed their metallic surroundings, their New York home and produced a release that by one turn includes avant garde with shouted, rants over atonal saxophone and industrial metal á la Fear Factory (closer Last Breath) and full on impassioned metal (Jekyll Better Hyde).

Jason Lekberg, for a man so congenial offstage, sounds like one angry puppy on this release -  but then again Douglas Adams said that in New York a sunny disposition could be an aggravating factor in an assault from bystanders....

But, with that passion and anger comes beauty. One can chose anger as negative force, or one can turn it into a force for justice.

And, it is that fist pumping, shout that comes on strong throughout the album, not least on title track and opener Vae Victis (woe to the vanquished one), which serves as a cry out that Ikillya will be victorious...or figurativelt die trying.

Stand-out track Jekyll Better Hyde is a complex little ditty, smashing a mailed fist on the two-sided coin that is human nature, while calling out that victory over the dark side can be achieved by humanity's light.

Bear Your Name on the other hand seems like the sort of personal song that is too personal to analyse, but rather has sufficient force for listeners to empathise with, and sympathise with, the sentiments and the genuine angst that can fuel redemption

And redemption is something of a theme throughout, the redemptive power of music, and the redemptive power of slaughtering sacred cows and exorcising personal demons.

For those that see some metal as vacuous, this is the perfect antidote - an album that follows on from the promising début Recon, and an heraldic trumpet to the future. Guitar riffs, bass rolling structures and sensitive power from drums.

Lekberg has promised to return for a third time to Belfast in 2015 with a new album firmly tucked under the band's arms, ready to once again to musically kill all in their path and tease with structures and lyrical odes to both victors and vanquished. We can't wait.

Review by Jonny

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