Illuuminus is a progressive heavy metal band from Warrnambool, Australia, brainchild of the guitarist and songwriter Mark Halliwell.
This review has taken me really long to write. It was back in November when the CD arrived and I listened through for the first time. I’ll tell you why later on.
This is heavy metal in the classic style. The band quote Black Sabbath, Dio and Iron Maiden as their influences and they are near in sound, as near as you can get still staying modern enough for today’s ears. For sure this is no power metal, nothing epic or symphonic about it. Clean, somewhat melodic vocals, synths, heavy riffing, yes. And a concept that goes beyond music, yes maybe.
To call this an EP is vast understatement. Although there are only five tracks none of them is less than 13 minutes in length. Quite the approved progressive fashion. Every single song is packed with musical ideas and changes mood, tempo and rhythm ever so often.
Although there is nothing in common superficially I was instantly reminded of old Genesis and Jethro Tull. Here there is the same diversity, a musical storytelling progressing from theme to theme.
And that’s what makes this album extremely interesting, but that’s also what made it so very hard for me to review. There’s almost too much in it, too many parts, no song structures, no hooks, no choruses, no repetitions. The songs tend to melt into one long flood of music, in itself impressing but leaving only slight impressions after you have finished listening. The vocal melodies are lacking originality and inspiration, and the moments that shine most are small guitar solo parts that emerge from time to time but get almost drowned in the flood. In the end the composition stays somewhat shallow, it doesn’t touch me.
Well that is my opinion anyway. For sure, you won’t get bored listening to this over again. Only I didn’t really feel strong urges to go on repeat.
I was also interested what the songs were all about and perused the lyrics. Here we find a mash up of different religious, philosophical and esoteric concepts. Isis and a Pharaoh of old meet the Phoenix rising from the ashes, the Nefilim land their saucers and ring in the Age Of Aquarius; Ozymandias, Kundalini, Pure Christ Dimension, The Lord and Mother Godess, the collective psyche, the Luciferian Experiment … and maybe some more I missed all crowd the lyrics. (Frankly I can’t make head nor tales what the point really is).
Though I am not sure I use the terminology correctly this is New Age to me, and in that fits well with both the band and album names. And this also explains the music on the album a bit better to me. Just like the New Age variety of esoterics that mix up all kinds of different beliefs and myths in a rather half baked way here the music is a garbled mix of a lot of different ideas and themes that are not really taken to any depth.
The quote from the liner note — ‘If you are searching for a new Holy Heavy Metal Grail, then look no further’ — must be interpreted in that vein surely, or else seems a bit over optimistic to me. It’s a good album, well written, well played and well produced. For die hard proggers this may be an illumination. For heavy metal fans with leanings to a classic style this will be a nice piece in their collection. For me, I cannot find that last spark to make it stand out.
In my opinion it would have done the album a lot of good if some of the themes and riffs had been worked on and developed more; and some of the ‘fill in’ stuff left out. Maybe I’m wrong but I feel that even progressive music can be catchy and memorable.
Anyway, lots of thanks to the band for letting me review this and I fully appreciate the work that has lovingly gone into making it and the musical potential shown.
1. Illuuminus (a New Realm)
2. Dark Night of the Soul
3. The Great Cycle
4. Pure Christ Dimension
5. Wheels of Resurrection
Steven Garner – Lead Vocals
Mark Halliwell – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Darren Ely – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Heidi Gass – Electric Piano/Synth and Vocals
Daniel Luttick – Drums and Percussion
Guest post by Heidi Bobal / Austria