|Review: Ilium - Vespertilion|
Label: Steelheart Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: February 11, 2009
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.2/5 (84%) (10 Votes)
Ilium have a checkered history going all the way back to the mid-90's with enough lineup changes to choke a wombat, but they keep putting out albums that rise above the crowd and do something interesting. Their last album, 2005's Permian Dusk showed flashes of brilliance but was chronically uneven. This new one is better, but still has some odd flaws in among the good stuff.
Ilium tend to write really long songs that are just a little bit proggy without straying out of pure metal territory — they don't overuse keys, they don't go nuts with the solos, they just write long songs filled with heavy riffs. A lot of the riffs are really good, but they seem to go on with no real reason. Most Ilium songs repeat themselves way more than can be accounted for by any reasonable songwriting aesthetic. That said, when they hit right on it they do it really well. Opener "Solar Amplexus" seems interminable, but the second song here is the rocking "Undergods", which is worth the price of the album by itself with headbanging verses and a chorus you will never stop singing. Then the thundering riffs of "Desinence: Beowulf and the Serpent" assure you this is a good album. In general this album gets stronger as it goes on, and songs like "Beowulf: The Peroration" and "Romulus And Remus" are powerful true metal epics that rumble with intricate riffs and complex compositions.
One listen through this will convince you that Ilium are not a first-rate band, but that they undeniably have the chops to get there, and even flawed as it is, Vespertilion is too brilliant in places to dismiss or ignore. Despite their tendency to go on a bit too long and bite off more thematically than they can chew, Ilium's third album is more than worth a look.
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