Ilsa - Preyer Music Album Reviews

Ilsa - Preyer Music Album Reviews
The sludgy death-metal group draws inspiration from the story of the satanist Sean Sellers on their roaring latest LP. 

On May 4, 1886, a bomb was thrown into a crowd of workers and their families who had gathered to hear speeches from a handful of prominent anarchists and labor organizers in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. The police, who had arrived moments before to bark out a dispersal order, opened fire; seven of their number were killed in the fracas, and multiple civilians were left injured or dead. As one of most infamous dates in American history, May 4, 1886 has also become a cultural touchstone for many of those on the left, from book publishers to breweries to metal bands. To the latter example, it’s etched into Orion Peter’s knuckles, and is thus on full display whenever the rangy, pierced-up vocalist takes the stage as part of D.C death doom outfit Ilsa.
Ilsa is often dropped into the sludge metal camp, and while those doom elements are certainly apparent in their tempo and songwriting, when it comes down to brass tacks, they’re simply one of the best death metal bands going. Their band’s new full-length, Preyer, leans into that trademark bludgeoning rumble. While their approach may be muddied by their allegiance to punk rock, in tone, in tenor, and in lethal potential, Preyer could just as well have come crawling out of Stockholm in the mid-1990s than the D.C. suburbs in 2020. On top of that, the band’s queer, anti-racist, antifascist politics are as front-and-center as Peter’s tattoos—though the finer points of their lyrics are often obscured behind his guttural roar and the band’s three-guitarist attack.

Ilsa may be an excellent death metal band, but they are far from typical; garden-variety lyrics about blood, guts, and virgin sacrifices are of no interest here. Rather, one of the album’s standout tracks, “Lady Diamond,” is a beastly reimagining of a medieval ballad—and it’s not even the strangest lyrical turn in this eleven-track compendium of complaints against Christian theocracy. Album opener “Epigraph” announces itself with a monologue from murderer and satanist Sean Sellers, who claimed that demonic possession fueled the 1986 killing of his parents and later converted to Christianity prior to his 1999 execution by the state. According to the band, Sellers’ story was a useful avatar for the “exploitative intersection of religious, media, and state authority,” and provided something of a guiding light for the album’s conception.

But despite Ilsa’s deep love for B-movie horror, Preyer is not merely focused on death. Rather, it fixes a gimlet eye directly on the arcane evils of heaven and hell, howling mockery at the cross and the prayerful predators that it has shielded through the centuries. In the album’s most explicitly political and anti-religious song, “Shibboleth”—a triumph of grimy, down-tuned d-beat—Peters rails against the “puritanic scum” and exhorts his own followers, “Raise the Devil’s black flag high! Anti-Christofascism!”

Elsewhere, Ilsa takes aim at mass media as a lever of control on the tectonically shifting “The Square Column,” and pays special attention to religious fanaticism, the sins of the church, and blasphemous ritual (as on the exemplary bruiser “Widdershins”). For someone like me, who was both raised Catholic and got into death metal at a rather tender age, Preyer often cuts uncomfortably close to the bone. The lurching title track is a bitter condemnation of Catholic complicity, and comes with a warning: “Pedophile protectors/Reproduce repression/Shame on you/Hell is real/Still to come/In this life.”

Preyer is due out on November 20th. Nine days (and 133 years) before, on November 11, 1887, four of those Haymarket martyrs—Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel, and Adolph Fischer—had swung from the gallows after a sham trial. Over a century later, the country remains in the grip of right-wing hegemony, and Ilsa’s latest effort offers both a razor-sharp critique of power and a distortion-drenched cry of rebellion. As Spies cried out before he died, “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.” Preyer may be an outlier in the often uninspiring American death metal landscape, but its message—and its music—make for a powerful weapon nonetheless.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Ilsa - Preyer Music Album Reviews Ilsa - Preyer Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, November 30, 2020 Rating: 5

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