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REVIEW: ILAT MAHRU – Incipit Akkadian

The following review was written by Lord of the Shadows

  1. Deluge Wisdom. 05:48
  2. Through The Gates Of Innana. 07:14
  3. Vengeance At The Spoiling Of The Ruins. 14:55
  4. Ziggurat 06:23

Another grey day here in U.K. and my cave at the moment is wetter than an otters pocket. Rain is seeping in from all angles and my new found feathery friend is doing all he can to shelter from it. That is until I have to send him out in it. As I ready him with a note attached to his leg, he sets off way down south to collect yet another album to review. The week prior, I received a message through my interweb portal from my label bosses Death Prayer. Their next set of releases for this year are about to drop and a select few have whet my appetite. As I wait for my faithful feathery companion to return with the first of their releases this month I am currently bailing out pots, pans and buckets of water out of my cave. Though as fast as I throw it out it pours back in. However, I prefer this to that of the fiery ball of hate in the sky on those summer months. As the hours pass soon enough my humbled and soaking wet raven lands on my shoulder. Dropping the new release into my hands. With a blank cover and only handwriting upon it, it reads Ilat Mahru: Incipit Akkadian plus the track listing. As I walk over to my interweb device to get some information on this act before I commence this deep dive into this act I find once again this band is allusive as most that haunt the halls of Death Prayer HQ. 

Everywhere I look leads me to a dead end so far but that’s never stopped me. So with what little knowledge I have I’ll start here Ilat Mahru which roughly translates to Ilat (shap blade) and Mahru (Moon Faced) or face as beautiful as the moon. However, I could be massively way off the mark here so instead of going further I’d just like to say I prefer it in their native tongue. It would appear there are four tracks in total so let’s waste no more time and get into this review. 

Track one “Deluge Wisdom” opens quite silently before it literally tears forth like a sonic assault on the ears. The production is raw and it’s quite easy to hear that in the recording process they used one singular microphone in the centre of the room. Everything is pumped and poured into this microphone. Such visceral hate, anguish and pain. The drums thunder through the track with a slight primitive essence but this just adds to the all out hateful atmosphere. The guitars are the next audible thing and with maximum overdrive as an effect added on it just adds to what would be an already chocking atmosphere. The use of the vocals ranging from the lower end of the spectrum and rising to that of a slight octave higher sweep through the track like a dense fog across the land and even like a viscous frost bitten wind. Whilst the production is raw and very low fi I really don’t feel this album would have benefited from a clean crisp mastered sound. I have a deep understanding of urgency within the track. Due to the nature of where Ilat Mahru hail from this music is extremely frowned upon. So to avoid the risk of being arrested or even worse this has been made both in haste and probably extremely secretive. Another band cloaked in mystery and for definite obvious reasons this so far has passion, pain and hate in abundance and I’m certainly here for it. 

Track two. “Through The Gates Of Innana” Innana comes from the Arabic for the Mesopotamia goddess of love, war and fertility. The overall feel for this track is one that captures those very feelings. The love of the music and the message that they are creating speaks volumes. To come from a country that is so repressed by its religion and laws it makes making this level of music highly risky. Everything is still as raw and brutally played in this track, however the guitars are much more audible in this mix. The drums still have that thunderous looming presence and after a lengthy intro the vocals finally come in. However much more sparingly than that of before. The track has many highs and lows, as we move into the midsection the fertility segment can almost be heard. The rhythm is one to carry your body in its rhythmic sound. That is before we dive right back in to the mire of sound. There is an element of synth that drops into the fold and adds the addition of lighter moments in the later half of the track. This could almost herald the presence of the goddess herself. Again the primitiveness of this track almost lends itself to the artist in more ways than one. As the vocals make a return for the final verse of the track the pain is heard in one final scream closing the track with those over drive ridden sound. 

Track three “Vengeance At The Spoiling Of The Ruins” is possibly the longest track on the album coming in at a whopping 14 minuets long. The Guitars open the track creating this wall of sound an almost impenetrable force then to top it off the drums come in and back the guitars up in creating this smothering sound. Finally the vocals come creeping in. First like a whisper though after a while those deep snarls come straight back and this is where the overall sound starts to obtain its bleak and sorrowful sounds. This track is almost split into sections, not even midway through a break comes and every thing shifts. The track takes a much slower and more constructive approach. The guitars have a much more structured sound to them and really take over this second part of the track. The drums  and vocals do help guide the track along, however this is purely B..M. At its finest. The guitars throughout give a very swampy sound almost with a touch of blues on the chord structure. There are subtle Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker vibes in the chords not to be and that’s not a bad thing it just adds to the intensity and almost makes it a more three dimensional track. The shifts and changes in tempo are truly amazing  and the raw production just adds to all around atmosphere. 

Track four “Ziggurat” is the forth and final track on this album and starts much differently than that of its predecessors with a simple slow beat and some very ethereal guitars it almost comes across quite dream like. Then the vocals come in sounding like a frost bitten wind and the tempo of the track climbs, reaching soaring levels the drumming and the guitars climb in tempo. Becoming more frantic and chaotic with each progression of the track. Looking into the name of the song. This track takes its name I believe from the Ziggurat of Ur is a Neo-Sumerian ziggurat in what was the city of Ur near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq and I believe that is what is to feature on the final album cover. So to pay homage to a this massive monolith of a building in this manor is truly phenomenal and shows what a triumphant and massive sound is what would accompany something of such proportions. This track is grandiose in every sense of the word from the drums to the guitars and the vocals too. Each progression this album has made has literally led to the closing of this track and what a close it is. From the subdued ethereal opening to the chaotic and bombastic ending is something truly to behold. 

As the tape tightens in my battered old Walkman and the stop button pings up. I slide the slowly decaying orange sponge headphones off my skull. Like a ritual I roll a cigarette and walk to the mouth of my cave. As I lean against the one dry spot of the cave wall I gaze out into the cold dark evening, the wind and the rain has slowed for now and the clouds are clearing away. The moon is bright and big and casts light onto the thick dense forest below. As I smoke my cigarette I think about the album that is still playing inside my skull. It is no surprise that Death Prayer have taken this act on board with the illusiveness and their pure raw driven talent it is a perfect recipe. I have taken on some raw B.M. reviews over the years but I don’t feel I have taken one on of such magnitude as this. For me I think the passion and desire to create such a dark and hate filled music as this is a primary ingredient it takes dedication to the art more so courage and conviction. So, to know what can happen to the artist should the government find them which could lead to punishment, jail or worse due to the heavy religious enforcement . I feel this gives the artist a lot more credence and more power, this is exuded in spades throughout this album. Whilst this is only the second release after their self entitled demo Ilat Mahru, they’re certainly carving their own path within the scene and in all honesty whilst raw and definitely untamed this has had a lasting impact on me both musically and for survival reasons too.  #foras #lordoftheshadows 🕯️💀⛓️⚔️🥀

Lord of the Shadows