Illucia – A New Reign
Release Date: 11/06/2022
Running Time: 41:02
Review by Rory Bentley
As someone that’s just finished recording an album with a band not signed to a label and funded from our own pockets, I understand the challenges of producing the product that you’ve dreamed about in your head. Yet despite the painful process of trying to be Rush on a budget, I can only imagine how much more grit, determination and raw passion it takes for bands in less privileged countries to even form a band, let alone put out a full length.
Here at Ever Metal, we totally get that our Metal brethren who don’t live in the more traditionally Metal-friendly parts of the world aren’t going to be hiring Andy Sneap any time soon. As a result we’ve traditionally made a point of being more lenient on amateurish production jobs and bands that aren’t exactly Testament levels of tight.
I think this is a fair approach, and we want to encourage the music we love to be enjoyed and played all over the planet regardless of culture, financial status or geography. That being said, I also think that it would be a disservice to these bands not to hold them to broadly the same standard as anything else we cover, to do otherwise would be patronising and disingenuous. With that being said, I’m about to say some nice things and some more critical things about Indian Traditional Heavy Metal band Illucia’s debut album “A New Reign ”.
Let’s start with the positives. The band’s love and passion for Metal is undeniable. Every song is played with joyful conviction and boundless energy like their lives depend on it. The production limitations actually work in favour of the record, as all of these performances feel lively and raucous like you’re sharing their practice space, there’s a few bum notes here and there (actually quite a lot vocally but more on that later) but that’s what you want from a band throwing back to the 80’s heyday of old school Metal.
The guitar work is technically impressive with some top tier shredding and a fair few tasty riffs and their influences are worn proudly on their sleeves. Accept, Judas Priest and of course Iron Maiden are all present and correct in the fabric of songs like the breakneck ‘Clap of Thunder’ and the rousing ‘Trauma of the Sea’ which lends the record a comforting familiarity.
There is also a clear ambition to experiment with dynamics such as the acoustic verses of ‘Slaves to the Land’ and closing call to arms ‘The Ritual…A New Reign’. Fair play for a band on their first album to attempt stylistic tricks that the bands they were influenced by took 2-3 records delve into. So that’s the good stuff and now onto the stuff that sees the score landing straight down the middle.
Metal vocals are hard. Specially sung vocals with a raging blur of distortion under you, or if you want to replicate your heroes but you’ve not been blessed with the natural gifts of a Rob Halford or even Ozzy. Despite attacking everything with an endearing energy, singer Vineesh Venugopal has his limitations seriously exposed at various points here. Over a more driving track like ‘Fortress of Gold’ he sounds scrappy, but commanding and suits the frantic pace of the band, but in the more soaring moments his grasp of his upper register is often inconsistent and occasionally his pitch wavers in a way that should really have either been corrected in post-production or remedied by doing another take.
Worse still he lacks the nuance to deliver melodic vocal lines during the acoustic passages to the extent that it really brings the songs down and I found myself waiting for things to speed up again to provide some kind of relief from hearing him flounder so badly. But as I said before, his buoyant enthusiasm does often circumvent his technical deficiencies to stop things from being a total disaster.
Bare bones production and singing aside, the main gripe I have here is one that I’ve constantly levelled at countless bands, which is a lack of originality. I’ve heard all of these different styles and permutations before and all have been done to a much higher standard, normally by the bands that invented them. As cool as it is to see a band thousands of miles from the birthplace of Heavy Metal make music that sounds like it could have been concocted in a dingy Birmingham jam room, the songs here are solid but unspectacular.
There’s enough fire and musical chops here to leave me with the hope that the band can raise their game and create something more inspiring in the future, but as things stand this is a flawed but promising debut and a tribute to the wide reach of Heavy Metal.
‘Clap Of Thunder’ Lyric Video
01. Fateful Night
02. Clap of Thunder
03. Trauma of the Sea
04. Slaves to the Land
05. The Fortress of Gold
06. The Chosen One
08. Walls of Desire
09. The Ritual… A New Reign
Nitin Charles Martin – Guitars
Srivatsa Balaji – Drums
Vineesh Venugopal – Vocals
Imli Suneo Jamir – Bass
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