Echos from the Portal…
I admit that before Jason over at Burning Fist alerted me to their existence, I had never before heard of I Am The Trireme. As a music fan always ravenous for new metal, however, I was excited to be able to give it a listen. Just a disclaimer, though- because I don’t know IATT’s music beyond this album, I cannot really talk about progression etc, so much as I can just critique the album for what it is.
I Am The Trireme hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which I have learned is quite a brewing hotbed of good black metal; Sadgiqacea and Hivelords, two doomy black metal bands I saw completely demolish Nomad’s World Pub in Minneapolis this summer, claim the same hometown. It’s no surprise then, that I had high hopes for this thing.
I Am The Trireme has released three EPs to date, a couple of songs from which made it onto Unholy. The album features mostly new material, however. Because IATT took a strange path of starting out as a metalcore band before taking on their current sound, I am interested to hear their earlier work and see just exactly how the band progressed up to this point. The metalcore influences are still there, as you can feel the occasional breakdown in the drums and guitars, but the sound has been fully incorporated into IATT’s new blackened death metal feel. IATT’s brand of orchestral black metal reminds me of Death Cult Armageddon-era Dimmu Borgir, in that the keyboards are constantly moving with continuous runs, the keyboards coming to the forefront every once in a while but not overshadowing the metal.
Probably my favorite part of the album hands down is the implementation of the piano. Alec Pezzano’s work on the keys is absolutely gorgeous. The piano alongside the strings in the opening of the very first song is haunting, and a fantastic and hooky start to the album. I also like the use of editing in order to create a creepy, splintered sound of the sort you hear in horror movies (you can hear it at about 35 seconds in).
The second track, “I Am Many,” is unbelievably heavy. The first two-thirds of the song feels like a death metal track, and then switches back into the symphonic black metal that was featured in the first track. We then segue into “Echos From The Portal Of Umbral Nightmares,” an extensive piano and keyboards solo complete with echoed voice-over and tortured screams.
“Unholy Divination” is a track that appeared on IATT’s 2010 EP of the same name. The vocals in this track are very varied, alternating between shrieks and roiling death growls. Also, the pace is incredible, which brings me to the drums- they are very good on Unholy. Paul Cole is a talented drummer, and his skills are showcased on “Unholy Divination.” The track fades out with the sound of wind howling.
The last track on the album, “Finding It Hard To Maintain With Serenity Bleeding From My Veins” is also heavily influenced by death metal, but this time of the more melodic sort rather than the heavy brutality of track two. I really enjoyed the guitar work at 2:33 and the subsequent solo. Not enough solos make their way into extreme metal.
The production on Unholy sounds very good; as I mentioned before, I think the keyboards were very artfully mixed. It’s hard to have that much going on in the keyboards and not let them dominate, but the balance works nicely here. The drum sound stuck out to me a little in the last track but only in places, and I feel that overall the album’s sound is very good.
The album artwork for Unholy is pretty cool, too; it has an altar feel as it depicts a smoky candle in front of an esoteric emblem. I really like the way that the candle smoke blends in with the lettering. It reminds me of the mist-like feel of “Echoes.”
I am really not a fan of metalcore, so I was skeptical on my first listen of Unholy. However, having listened to the album some more, I feel like their metalcore background lends IATT a unique sound that will help set them apart from the myriads of symphonic black metal groups. As I mentioned earlier, the breakdowns blend in with the music as to be barely even noticeable, and it’s only on the final track that I feel like the keyboards start to feel a little more core-influenced. Overall, I Am The Trireme did a great job on this record. I’m interested to learn more about their past as well as see what the future will hold for these guys.