Illumishade – Another Side of You (Napalm)

Monday, 12th February 2024
Rating: 9.5/10

Illumishade’s debut, 2020’s Eclyptic: Wake of Shadows, was an impressive first offering that brought listeners into a sweeping, musical world that felt magical and whimsical without losing that all important bottom-end. A vehicle for Eluveitie’s Fabienne Erni and Jonas Wolf, it inevitably brough plenty of eyes and ears on the musical project. While it’s been four years since that debut, it left a pretty big impact with it’s unique feeling and soundscapes, so the announcement that the band had signed with Napalm Records as well as releasing a sophomore effort was certainly a welcome one. Another Side of You doesn’t have the same conceptual story feel as the debut, but shows them as willing and able to play around a bit with their formula while still maintaining a stunningly high bar.

The ‘Disney gone metal’ vibes still offer a beautiful, ear-catching quality, as does Fabienne Erni’s enigmatic vocals, but the diverse offering of songs is what will keep you inevitably drawn back to Another Side of You over time. “Elegy” leads off with groovy, djenty goodness. The meaty riffs are a welcome sound to behold, and the contrast between some more melodic and gentle moments and the chunky, atmospheric guitarwork is nothing short of breathtaking as the chorus elevates things into beautiful territory with Erni’s vocals laid on top. “Into the Darkness” is a soaring and inspired bit of power metal fantasy with a scorching modern edge. The chorus here is pretty, but still wants to make you raise a fist in the air and sing along with it. “Cloudreader” carries a more playful tone as it slowly builds itself up with spine-tingling vocals – a poignant solo later on is truly the cherry on top for such a magical sounding track. The appropriately titled “Fairytale” is a striking ballad that hits some similar notes in its goosebump-inducing atmosphere and Erni’s lovely vocal performance. Certainly one of the highlights at the latter end of the album is that of “Hummingbird,” which utilizes some elegant piano alongside Erni as the mood builds up slowly to a rumbling groove in the track’s back half. One more highlight on the back end is that of “Riptide,” an electronically laced banger of a song that ranks as one of the most hypnotic and urgent songs of the album – striking the flame and allowing the final two tracks to really ease the listener into a beautiful calm.

The varied colors and emotions that bubble up over the course of Another Side of You are it’s strongest asset. Illumishade continue to showcase their ability to provide grand, sweeping compositions while keeping them rich with plenty of exhilarating grooves and enchanting vocals. Truly a magical, musical experience that will entice you to listen over and over again. A must for symphonic/modern metal fans.

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