Once upon a time metal was metal and the ever splintering genres we know today existed almost singularly under this banner. Sure the differences in certain bands, from Iron Maiden to Venom for example, were always palpable but fans and bands themselves were less concerned with what to call it than they were to simply enjoy the music for what it was. Some of the best bands in metal’s history have been the ones who continue to defy easy genre classifications. The ability to take a myriad of sounds and merge them into this sort of melting pot of extremity is no small feat. Such is the task that Chicago’s Immortal Bird has undertaken with an iron will.
Chicago’s metal scene has easily distinguished itself as one of the best the U.S. has to offer for some time now. The list of bands pouring out of the Windy City over the last couple of years making forward-thinking, genre-bending metal is nothing short of astonishing. Perhaps it’s the Nordic like weather the city is shrouded in for 4-6 months of the year, but the one genre Chicago seems to be excelling at is the hybrid of blackened death and/or blackened thrash. This is where Immortal Bird has decided to nest and give birth their debut EP, Akrasia.
Listen, if this band wore corpse paint and called Oslo their home we wouldn’t be having any discussion about what genre they should be tossed into. This EP is more “black metal” than the last Satyricon record and that’s saying something. Sure there are other influences afoot. Doom, death metal, even a little thrash tossed in there for good measure. But those are really just garnishes to the main course. Picture the earliest output of bands like Dissection and the more recent offerings of bands like Belphegor or Vreid and that at least puts you in the ballpark. Album opener, “Spitting Teeth” is a tense and terse display of tremolo picking and unholy growls at the start, met almost instantly by death metal-like barrages of chunky riffs and double-bass. It’s the perfect set-up for the next three tracks of this four-song EP, as each track wanes in and out of black metal country with an ease only reserved for bands usually much longer in the teeth. The second track, “Ashen Scabland” follows a similar path opening with a riff that makes you feel like you’re lost in a blizzard on top of a mountain, exposed to the elements and simply waiting for the end of it all. This entire four-song offering is dripping with those icy moments of impending doom.
One would be remiss not to once again mention those vocals. They seethe with lyrical bile that’s clearly been left to ferment into an anger-filled barrage. It should be noted that having a female vocalist in an extreme metal band these days is not out of the ordinary at all. Having a female drummer in an extreme metal band is a little more of an anomaly. Having said vocalist and drummer be the same woman and listening to her absolutely kill it in both respects is downright unheard of. However let’s not belabor this point at the risk of diminishing the accomplishments of this band as a cohesive unit. Immortal Bird is more than just a female vocalist or a female drummer. It’s three people who’ve come together, clearly with a lot of piss and vinegar in their collective systems, now creating the perfect outlet for release. Immortal Bird are a band to watch for sure. If these four songs are a harbinger of things to come then the rest of the metal world better take notice.
Akrasia hits the streets on December 3 via Closed Casket Recordings. For more info check out the Immortal Bird Facebook page.