Denominate – Isochron
The second full album, “Isochron” from Finnish band Denominate, is a great example of a sub-genre that I have grown fond of, Progressive Death Metal. Although there is no clean singing, Ville Männikkö’s vocals are not too hard on the ears, and the songs feature a wide variety of moods, with some excellent guitar work, complex arrangements, and razor-sharp production. Their first two releases are the EP “Realms of Confusion” in 2014 and their debut album “Those Who Beheld the End” in 2016. All three are available on Bandcamp.
Partway through the first track of this album, I found myself thinking “there’s nothing remarkable here”. How wrong I was, and I should know better. It annoys me when people dismiss something after only hearing a few bars. If you assume what you first hear is going to be all there is, you could well miss out on a lot of great bands and albums. So, I normally give new stuff a chance, and by the end of ‘The Chain’, I had changed my mind completely. It builds slowly with short blast beats, then speeds up and increases in intensity and complexity. The pace changes for the last two minutes with a nice lead break and a slower finish. A story runs through the album, starting in ‘The Chain’, where plans are made to flee the now spent planet (possibly Earth). But the tyrants who have bleed the homeworld dry, have installed a saboteur amongst those planning to escape.
Denominate – The Chain (Click here if the video does not play)
‘Departure’ sees the great day arrive, all set to leave the dead world. A quieter instrumental passage starts the track, maybe invoking the quiet expectation of all those preparing to leave. All is not right though as the track suddenly gets much heavier. This continues into ‘Abandoned’ and it becomes apparent that the saboteur has done his worst.
Denominate – Abandon (Click here if the video does not play)
Eemeli Bodde of Mors Subita (Latin for “Sudden Death”) makes a guest appearance as the Saboteur in ‘Succession’ where the status quo is restored, and things get even worse “Eventually we crowned the traitors as kings”.
‘Desolation’ has an atmospheric beginning and is mostly instrumental, with the first of the few words sung in slow motion. Many years have passed, and ice starts to overtake the planet. The track ends as it began with an empty desolate feel to it.
The longest track is ‘The Chronicler’ at 10:23 minutes. It has lots of time changes and styles, light and dark. One of the last survivors has written the story of the dreams unfulfilled and failed endeavours, “Chronicled and compiled into a timeless tale”.
The final track ‘Isochron’ is a strong finisher (no pun intended) and seems to be an observation from beyond the dead planet. The story surely remains incomplete in the eternity of time and infinity of the universe.
Apologies to the band if I have totally misinterpreted the story being told here. I did not make any of these assumptions by listening to the lyrics, they could be singing about anything. The printed versions give a little more idea but become more ambiguous as the album progresses. The band’s version is: “The story of the album takes the listener on a journey spanning millenniums, exploring themes about the nature of the universe and the morality of actions taken in an uncaring world”. An isochron is a set of initial conditions for the system that all lead to the same long-term behaviour. Figure it out if you can, but do not let it spoil your enjoyment of this fine album.
- The Chain
- The Chronicler