REVIEW: Spectral Embrace by Isenordal

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Seattle-based black funeral doom/dark folk project Isenordal brings us Spectral Embrace, a mournful acoustic record released on the first of this month, kicking off an absolutely massive US tour.

The first full-length offering of the band’s dark folk side is masterfully composed and performed. Right out the gate I can tell these guys treat their craft with the seriousness and respect it deserves and I was pulled straight in. The group’s use of percussion especially adds to the mysticism of the opening track as arrhythmic chimes and bells tinkle over the guitar and vocal lines. Strings are introduced with simple but strong harmonies and percussion is showcased again toward the end with thundering polyrhythms. Fucking fantastic.

While the opening track “The Sorrow of a Shadowed World” is well-written and catches attention, it’s on the second track, “Inevitable Product of the Foretold” that their composition skills really begin to shine, opening with pizzicato strings rebounding off of one another while vocals intertwine call-and-answer lines. The minimalist approach to their music writing adds to the otherworldliness of the record, full of grief and nature worship.

“An Entrancing Dream” features some of the best vocals on the record, packing more power and longing than what we’ve heard thus far, and adding a fantastic contrast. The group conveys the themes of grief and loneliness wrapped in nature worship pastiche with skill and have reached that level of ensemble playing where they are able to play off of each other’s strengths and bring out the best parts of their music.

The final track, “To Turn Thy Thoughts from the Tree of Life,” is the best showcase of what Isenordal’s folk side is bringing to the table, opening with singing in counterpoint to one another as the song develops layers that ultimately lead to some of the best use of accordion textures I’ve heard in a while. The use of open perfect intervals adds a pseudo-medieval flair as the vocals repeat in a sort of chant. This is perfect music for the gloomy Pacific Northwest, which is no surprise coming from a Cascades-based group, though we are in the full swing of summer now. But I’d still recommend brewing a cup of tea and letting Spectral Embrace wash over you, especially once fall and winter roll around.

Spectral Embrace is out now through Eternal Warfare Records.

Isenordal is on tour now with Void Omnia

6/04/2018 Mootsy’s – Spokane, WA *#
6/05/2018 Zebra Lounge – Bozeman, MT *#
6/06/2018 Crown Bar – Cheyenne, WY *#
6/07/2018 Hi-Dive – Denver, CO #
6/08/2018 71 Grind – Colorado Springs, CO #
6/09/2018 71 Grind – Colorado Springs, CO #
6/10/2018 Buckhorn – Laramie, WY #
6/11/2018 Urban Lounge – Salt Lake, UT #
6/12/2018 Shea’s Tavern – Reno, NV #
6/13/2018 Press Club – Sacramento, CA #
6/14/2018 Golden Bull – Oakland, CA #
6/15/2018 Sirens Song – Eureka, CA #
6/16/2018 Old Nick’s – Eugene, OR #
6/17/2018 Tonic Lounge – Portland, OR #
6/18/2018 Black Lodge – Seattle, WA #
6/19/2018 The Valley – Tacoma, WA
6/20/2018 Cryptatropa – Olympia, WA
6/21/2018 Thirst For Light – Pe Ell, WA
6/23/2018 Stygian Rites – Rapid City, SD
6/24/2018 Lee’s Liquor Lounge – Minneapolis, MN
6/25/2018 Wisco – Madison, WI
6/26/2018 High Dive MKE – Milwaukee, WI
6/27/2018 Subterranean – Chicago, IL
6/28/2018 Sanctuary – Detroit, MI
6/29/2018 Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA
6/30/2018 Holo – New York, NY
7/01/2018 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
7/02/2018 The Depot – Baltimore, MD
7/03/2018 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
7/04/2018 Odditorium – Asheville, NC
7/05/2018 Sweetwater – Nashville, TN
7/06/2018 Santos – New Orleans, LA
7/07/2018 Renos Chop Shop – Dallas, TX
7/08/2018 The Lost Well – Austin, TX
7/09/2018 The Cave – Santa Fe, NM
7/10/2018 Yucca Tap Room – Tempe, AZ
7/11/2018 Cornish Pastry Co – Las Vegas, NV
* no Void Omnia
# with Addaura

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