Metal newbies would have you think metal just started borrowing from shoegaze’s sounds a few years ago. While Deafhaven popularized the fusion in 2013, the genres have been bedfellows for quite a while. Jesu, as far back as 2004, brought the psychedelics of shoegaze together with abrasive industrial metal, a juxtaposition rarely touched upon by newer metalgaze bands who usually gravitate toward aesthetics of black metal and sludge metal.
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Brazil’s Isaurian brings a new vibe to industrial shoegaze metal (that’s a mouthful). Where Jesu went ugly and violent, Isaurian dials it back to a gothic melodicism. In place of dreary, robotic vocals is lush human singing with lots of reverb. This is a symphonically layered and poppy approach to the metalgaze sound. Still, while the band creates atmosphere mostly through their instruments rather than from their electronics, you can hear the industrial side of this short EP in little drum machine ticks, thick keyboard chords, or straight bass kicks in the back of the mix. All The Darkness Looks Alive is what Godflesh would sound like if they spent more time with the Peaceville Three.
The opener, “Hologram”, gives the EP a real sense of large, open spaces with its plaintive melody on the piano accompanied by down-tuned, wall-of-sound guitar and rich keys. This track has a particularly shoegazey feel to it with its lighter verses and big hooks. It’s written in the same style as My Bloody Valentine classics like “Only Shallow” and “When You Sleep”. The next track, “Way Down”, includes a huge burst of joy at around the 1:25 mark that makes this EP totally worth the $4 just by itself. This moment of atmospheric climax is surrounded by some more straight-forward riffing that wouldn’t seem out of place on an Iced Earth record. If that’s not diversity on a metal record, I don’t know what is.
The headline of this EP is in the final track. Isaurian closes the EP with a Jesu remix of “Hologram”, an impressive feat for such a young band. Justin Broadrick doesn’t throw any curveballs here and his signature fuzzy, out-of-focus sound fits perfectly on this morose metal-pop affair.
If you like the pretty, pop side of shoegaze and depressing metal, check these guys out. There are moments of real beauty on this concise debut. With a Jesu collaboration so early in their career, there are certainly even greater things to come. You can buy and stream their new EP on their bandcamp page.