'Third Act in the Theatre of Madness'

(Pitch Black Records)

MARK: 92/100


What many seem not to understand is that when only one original member is left, the style can't be but different.
Illnath is only at its third full-length, yet it's been suffering from several line-up changes, and this is the first with the new vocalist Mona, who also writes the lyrics. She uses different styles and occasionally reminds other female colleagues, still she has moments of sheer originality. Another positive note comes from her lyrics, which sound childish to some reviewers, or straightforward and not subject to diverse interpretations to others. I belong to the second category and in my opinion she's been clever during the composition without forcing them to rhyme or fit within the required time limits of every line. Definitely, a successful manner to enhance the musical experience.
The record is opened by an autobiographic composition celebrating the band's evolution with plain refernces to the previous platters. "Third Act" immediately shows Mona's brutal vocals in the vein of Angela Gossow, as well as other celestial or whispered ones, rebutting thos who accuse her of being flat, boring and repetitive.
In "Scarecrow" we find a refined concoction of her vocals and Viking ones by guest singer Thomas Hubertz; a pair of additional keyboard interventions, followed by an absolutely unique, rutilant guitar solo.
"Lead the Way" is a catchy song bound to conquer even the most skeptical on stage, owing to the contrast between mid-tempos and speed-ups, and thanks to the wrapping bass lines and also the atmospherical break.
After the symphonic Black metal of "Snake of Eden" is time for the fast assault of "Shorthanded", adding crushing guitars and drums soon afterwards; moreover, this track comprises of a guitar and keyboard Power metal fugue and top-notch guitar licks, too.
Mona's clean vocals open "Spring Will Come" and I'm always having a massive erection every time I hear them; the followed path is In Flames' with the addition of Speed metal and evil Black metal screams; it's like rubbing a cheese grater on your eardrums.
With "Tree of Life and Death" I get buried by a heap of unforgettable riffs, a groovy refrain and a delicate Prog break, whereas "Fall of Giants" is a tribute to the Metal legends we grew up with (that keep on bringing up new generations of metalheads!), and an arraignment to the folks in the music biz trying to obtain popularity and money quick and easy with hypocrisy. Here the blond avenging goddess uses angry vocals or clean ones besides her growling rich in reverberation, making her quite similar to a hungry wolf ready to tear to pieces. The very song contains a riff close on the early Iron Maiden as well, then the plot changes steering the style in the direction of the primal Dimmu Borgir when the lugubrious keyboards appear. Expect a track with an abundance of outbursts and a closure with clean vocals one more time.
The peculiarity of "Vampiria" lies in the album's best riffing, one of those begging you to pump the volume up till your long-hated neighbours are forced to give up their annoying karaoke session and get the fuck out for some time. There's a minimum keyboard contribution here, while axeman Pete rages through trilling, palm muting, and two wonderful juicy solos. I dare say Illnath have created a new genre with this song: violent Power/Speed metal.
The CD offers a bonus track recorded with another drummer and the drums are fatter and mixed louder here. "Kingship Incarnate" is the real highlight and the most wicked track out of the ten.
The Danes have lost their well-appreciated singer, that's true, notwithstanding at the same time they've drawn influences from Amon Amarth, Slayer, Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, and so on; the result is a group of songs defying any easily foreseeable solution, capable of surprising the listener in multifold ways and styles, silencing the bad mouths who consider the 3 musicians out of shape or even done for. Now we have a good, driven, powerful vocalist, a gorgeous chick opening her self through sincere and soulful lyrics, technically-proficient guitars and bass as ever, what more do you want?
New Illnath, you've made my birthday and now you know you have at least one megafan in Italy!


Line-up on this record:
Mona Beck - v.
Peter Falk - guitars (ex-Flagellation, ex-Seven Thorns, ex-Blackhorned)
Kenneth Frandsen - b. (ex-Seven Thorns, ex-Indoctrination, ex-Beyond Reality, ex-Defiled Dreams, ex-Renegadeth)
Reno Killerich + Michael Huhle - session d.
+ additional keys, guitars and clean vocals

Official sites: http://www.illnath.dk


-Bring down the Witching Hour (demo - 2000)
-Angelic Voices Calling (EP - 2001)
-Cast into Fields of Evil Pleasure (CD - 2003)
-Second Skin of Harlequin (CD - 2006)
-Three Nights in the Sewers of Sodom (Demo - 2009)
-Lead the Way (EP - 2011)
-Third Act in the Theatre of Madness (CD - 2011)