Izegrim – Congress of the Insane (Listenable)

Friday, 25th October 2013
Rating: 7/10

Female. Blonde.  Has a rasp. Angela Gossow incarnate? No, it’s just Izegrim vocalist Marloes, who will probably have to contend with Gossow comparisons for the foreseeable future unless she changes her style…or colors her hair black. One of the two. The Dutch band’s fourth album Congress of the Insane finds itself right in death/thrash no-man’s land, something spun off the likes of Dew-Scented and Legion of the Damned, which is probably the most apt description of a band sure to get lost in the underground shuffle if they keep this up.

Unlike Arch Enemy, Izegrim does not appear to have a melodic anchor. Their tunes are largely straightforward workouts, occasionally dipping into early 90’s territory (“Decline and Fall”), while the off-handed moment of brutality works its way in during “Endless Strife” (nice staccato) and “Modern Day Freak,” which stands as the album’s highwater mark. But, the whole thing feels a bit flat, like there has to be something to Izegrim’s tunes to get them moving, and Marloes isn’t even the problem – she’s got the whole discernible rasp thing down pat, but she doesn’t have anything exciting to run with other than C-grade death and thrash riffs.

Corny clown visuals aside, one would be hard-pressed to find a more roots-ready, straight-ahead-we-go tumbler than Congress of the Insane. It’s tough; there’s this weird in between that Izegrim find themselves in, with the retro brigade setting back decades, while a small segment of bands are trying to push forward with flash and panache. Oh where does a working man/woman’s band like Izegrim fit?

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