Ignea – Dreams of Lands Unseen
Ukraine has gone through a year of sheer terror and unimaginable hardship, as we all know. This considered, it is remarkable that there are still quality bands from that country putting out releases. The obvious example is Jinjer, but another Ukrainian band whose female singer handles both clean and harsh vocals is Ignea. That is where any comparisons end as this band is more symphonic/oriental/progressive. Frontwoman Helle Bohdanova uses her cleaner assets more than her growls on the band’s third album “Dreams of Lands Unseen.”
This latest release is a concept album reflecting the life of Ukrainian photographer and documentarian Sofia Yablonska. She was known for travelling to dangerous places around the world to document the lives of the people who lived there. There’s a certain irony in that, considering the state of her own country now. She died in 1971 so was spared the heartache currently felt by her fellow countrymen and women.
The material contained in these 10 tracks ranges from oriental sounding folk to brutal death metal. This makes the whole thing very interesting, invoking the mood of each chapter of the story. Their previous songs ‘Jinnslammer’, ‘Alga’ and ‘Disenchantment’ earned them honours at the best Ukrainian metal act awards. I assume they are hoping for more accolades with this new album, and that would be well deserved.
A short but dramatic instrumental intro entitled ‘Téoura’ starts us on Sofia’s journey as imagined by the band. It has a Middle Eastern feel which carries on into the Sahara Desert themed ‘Dunes’. This catchy, heavy at times and brilliant track became an instant favourite for me. It showcases all of the band’s considerable portfolio of styles. The mesmerising rhythm is further enhanced by Helle’s cavorting in the video of the track.
Ignea – Dunes (click here if the video does not play)
The story continues with ‘Camera Obscura’ and ‘Далекі Обрії.’ The former has Helle mixing her cleans and growls while the latter is heavier with driving riffs. In its non-Cyrillic form, it reads as ‘Daleki Obriyi’ but is sung in the Ukrainian language. It honours their home country and mother tongue. By now Sofia, the subject of the album, at this juncture is far from modern civilization.
‘To No One I Owe’ starts gently, but soon builds to be heavier than it first appears. The same applies to ‘Incurable Disease’ the title of which refers to the amount of time Sofia spent on the water.
Ignea – Incurable Disease (click here if the video does not play)
By this time her travels found her in the far east, but not before a song about the darkness and dangers of her voyage. This mood is portrayed in ‘Nomad’s Luck’ with Helle’s vocal styles duelling with each other.
Ignea – Nomad’s Luck (click here if the video does not play)
An unmistakable oriental sound marks the arrival of our heroine in the far east in the gentle ‘The Golden Shell.’ There are no growls in this track, which softens the mood. In fact, this is the mellowest track on the album. Staying in the orient, the penultimate and longest track ‘Opiumist’ features a guest vocalist. The track has two halves, the first being the softer, catchier one with Helle handling the clean vocals. In the middle, separating the two halves, there is what sounds like a busy place, possibly an opium den. From here on the track is heavier with Tuomas Saukkonen, vocalist with Finnish band Wolfheart, taking on the growls.
The story and album culminate with ‘Zenith’, which despite some hard-hitting bass lines is one of the more melodic tracks. This is another track sung in Ukrainian and Helle sticks to clean vocals for this one. It is a nice gentle finish to a very diverse and varied 45 minutes.
Well, my list of bands to keep an eye on grows ever longer. It goes without saying that I wish them and their country well and hope the current madness ends soon. This is a valuable addition to any serious metal fan’s collection and of course, mine.
- Camera Obscura
- Далекі Обрії
- To No One I Owe
- Incurable Disease
- Nomad’s Luck
- The Golden Shell