Ilsa – “Preyer” (Relapse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
As if Washington D.C. couldn’t take any more violence, local band Ilsa issue their 6th release centred around the mind of Sean Sellers, the first and only person executed in the U.S. for a crime committed under the age of 17. Appropriately playing doom death on the 11 tracks making up the aptly titled “Preyer”, the material is as much a condemnation of the ‘…exploitative intersection of religious, media and state authority, culminating in Sellers’ execution for murders committed in a state of self-described ‘demonic possession’…’. Not holding back whatsoever, as can be expected from this visceral band judging by their 5 prior full-length releases, Ilsa’s reputation has been forged as much from their stylish composing as their violent performances. It’s amply evident as Josh Brettell’s (Integrity) pummelling double bass drums herald the grimness of ‘Moonflower’ as the thickObituary meets Sabbath riffs along with a touch of warbling and hefty doses of tortured feedback from Brendan Griffiths (Dagger Moon) and Tim (Time Of The Wolf), lure in your hapless soul to be finished off by the anguished raw screamo of Orion Peter (Time Of The Wolf). Continuing the downward spiral to meet the late but immortal Chuck Schuldiner (Death) on ‘Lady Diamond’, the guitars once again hit it brilliantly through plenty of catchy headbanging moments while Orion makes his screamo as close to Evil Chuck in superb tribute as the mid song funeral death melodic interlude once again demonstrates the sophistication inherent in this truly great band. Closing in the cement mixer of ‘The Square Coliseum’, that brings together Brettell’s colossal poundings with grinding guitars squealing and wailing in pain, the slowness of the track allows Orion’s bleak and tormented screams to really deliver the cruelty in all its sweat and stink without mercy. In short, “Preyer” is as pitiless as the predator on which it is based.