With “Maze”, the Ilydaen motto “Impression through energy” has been translated into a brood of dark, glistening dissonance. These songs are like a star-spangled night sky, hanging overhead like it’s about to fall down. These songs are like a dismal crown, adorned with nine fiery gems.
Ilydaen seem to have been bred in the same nest as fellow countrymen Terraformer and Grimmsons, carrying with them a well balanced personality of post-rock and metal.
RELEASE DATE: 28 November 2014 LABEL: Dunk!records
Of course each of these bands carry their own breath in their lungs and Ilydaen’s reeks of post-hardcore and perhaps even the extended instrumental parts of early Metallica. On this record, Ilydaen are like a frowning, heavy hearted big foot; like Frankenstein’s monster, hunted by his creator to the ends of the earth. “Maze” is dark and dissonant; heavy as sludge without the mud.
The drumming on this album is highly enjoyable, being characterised original grooves and fills, not terrifyingly tight but rather muscular, and human – I could almost listen to this whole album solely focussing on the drum parts. The vocals on this record are another hidden gem. “Quandary” shows the absolute added value of the voice of bass player Erik Braun. Throughout the album, they are sparsely distributed, but therein lies part of their power. An album full of these vocals would render them ineffective, yet now they kick in like a shovel! In comparison, the albums post-rock guitars almost sound a little too sweet and sugary to me.
“Argon Walls” is a well-crafted instrumental and shows Ilydaen on top of their game. The bass lines are really nice, not only here, but also throughout the rest of the album. They are melodic without distracting the listener which do get drowned out while the song unfolds itself, but in this case that’s not so bad. On the other side, a thing that’s rather sad is the fact that in the more heavy parts of the music, these wonderful bass lines are drowned in the orchestra of guitars that pour out of the Ilydaen floodgate called Daniel Schyns.
“Maze” is a bit of an unsettling record to listen to. The whole storm is brooding, dark clouds are rolling themselves out across the shores and onto the beach, but the actual smack in the face, the actual hammer on the anvil rarely arrives. “Shelter” seems to convey some concluding tones, but they are yet to convince me as a listener. “Breach” is really an awesome song, but just not loud and hard hitting enough. The parts are there, but it’s just that the guitar tones and mixing take out all the oomph.
“Shelter” ends the album in elegant post-rock fashion, the tremolo picked clean guitars being smooth as snakes in the grass, before the ultimate crescendo of rhythmic guitar pulsations. They are not the summit of loudness, but the hypnotic droning of the distorted strings seems to be saying something beyond that. “Maze” is an album that carries definitive qualities, good musicianship, a mood that’s convincing. It’s a darling album of darkness, amiable but with its hooks and teeth ready to come at you.