IGNEA – DREAMS OF LANDS UNSEEN
LABEL: Napalm Records
RELEASE: April 28th, 2023
AUTHOR: Michael Estrada
03. Camera Obscura
04. Далекі Обрії
05. To No One I Owe
06. Incurable Disease
07. Nomad’s Luck
08. The Golden Shell
09. Opiumist (feat. Tuomas Saukkonen)
UKRAINE IS AT WAR!
Much has changed since IGNEA‘s last album, 2020’s spectacular “The Realms Of Fire And Death“. The band’s sophomore record was a coming out party, of sorts, which I felt was one of the best records of that year. The combination of intense death metal with the soaring symphonic elements that, somehow, still left space for beautiful touches of folk, made for an album that was both rebellious and triumphant. Tracks like “Queen Dies“, “Jinnslammer“ and “Disenchantment“ lay testament to that. With bands like Infected Rain, as well as their country and musical peers Jinjer gaining global recognition, I was curious to see how IGNEA would approach a topic that Jinjer even addressed with the hard hitting, yet somber “Wallflowers“ back in 2021 (they also have Max Morton, who worked with Jinjer, help produce this release).
“Dreams Of Lands Unseen“ is remarkable. The subject matter is one that resonates, as it reflects the life of Sofia Yablonska, Ukrainian photographer and documentarian, who traveled to the most distant corners of the world. She documented her time with tribes and natives during her experiences and IGNEA looks to recreate as such sonically. Instead of missiles and bullets, the band is armed with amazing compositions and breathtaking musicianship. On “Dunes“, vocalist Helle Bohdanova picks up where she left off on “The Realms Of Fire And Death“. She seamlessly moves through harsh growls and uplifting cleans while the music paints a desert setting in the background using Far East melodies amidst a swirling chorus.
The music is always shifting landscapes to chronicle Sofia‘s journey, a voyage that IGNEA takes to heart. On “Camera Obscura“, the band even effortlessly conjures up sounds from a camera itself, implementing progressive aspects along the way. The flash of the bulb from a camera can even be seen as a distant sunrise on the horizon that Yablonska is striving towards. Catchy synth continously contrasts the brutal death rhythms and passages. “Incurable Disease“ is a wave of sound, sweeping and crashing from all different directions like a great sea Sofia sailed across.
As lush as the synth can be and as cinematic of an experience “Dreams Of Lands Unseen“ comes across as, IGNEA never forgets to ground everything with hard hitting instrumentation and personal touches. The folk aspects shine even more on later tracks such as “The Golden Shell“ and “Opiumist“, the latter featuring an inspired performance from Tuomas Saukkonen of the Finnish melodic death band Wolfheart. These two tracks also represent Sofia‘s journey to China, chronicling her time there as well. The use of all these folk elements are also further reinforced on “Далекі Обрії“ (Daleki Obriyi), a track that’s completely sung in the band’s native tongue, which translates to ‘far horizons‘. Yevhenii Zhytniuk‘s keys truly pulsate on this song. The violin sounds both majestic and liberating on “To No One I Owe“, while “Nomad’s Luck“ features the band’s most well rounded performance, lest we forget how effortless Dmytro, Oleksandr and Ivan have helped to transport both us and the spirit of Sofia Yablonska across the map.“Zénith“ is the climactic conclusion you are looking for and that the album deserves, proving that the band is both vessels and auteurs. Beneath the shadow of war, uncertainty and strife, there still is a common thread of hope that IGNEA weaves through each and every track on “Dreams Of Lands Unseen“. There is no bleakness, only perseverance, as they help honor and keep true a figure from their country that should be celebrated and looked to as inspiration. Sofia Yablonska left Ukraine to see everything the world has to offer in all of its splendor and mystery.
IGNEA, too, sees the bigger picture.