Review: “Isochron” by Denominate

Isochron” marks the third studio record from Finnish Technical Progressive Death Metallers Denominate in six years, with the cover art by Juha Vuorma offering an insight into a concept record of sorts which tells a story taking the listener on a journey spanning millennia, exploring themes about the nature of the universe and the morality of actions taken in an indifferent world. If you’re thinking that sounds awfully Progressive for a Technical Death Metal album, rest assured that based on 2014’s “Realms of Confusion” and 2016’s “Those Who Beheld the End“, Guitarists, Kimmo Raappana and Eetu Pylkkänen, drummer Joni Määttä, vocalist Ville Männikkö  and bassist Tuomas Pesälä have their roots firmly in Extreme Metal in both delivery and composition. Their previous offerings are both finely-honed sonic onslaught infused with emotion expressed through thoughtful melody and arrangement…

…”The Chain” saw a lyric video four months before the album dropped and a tone setter for a record, you’re not going to get a more appropriate one that this. Määttä’s drumming is on the Kevin Talley (Chimaira, Dying Fetus, Daath) scale of impressive with plenty of jack hammer footwork and some really interesting fills. Main song writer Raappana has created some dark and brooding atmospheres and the song balances out light and shade perfectly sonically as Männikkö delivers the almost mournful lyrics with the kind of vocal brutality that Death Metal purists will love. “Departure” offers some more meandering moments of Progressive Metal with a elongated solo that falls into an acoustic moment before climbing back up the ladder. It’s a song of rhapsody and resplendent guitar work, only blackened by the rhythmic battering of the drumming and Männikkö’s savage vocals. A whirlwind Black Metal opening to “Abandoned” sees Denominate dive headlong into blast beats accompanied by some Dimmu Borgir influenced riffs. It’s a 7 minute tornado that has a relentless quality despite the evil arpeggios and brings with it a thunderstorm of technicality, played at an almost breakneck speed that is simply jaw dropping…


…the majestic soaring guitar work of “Succession” that slowly builds despite the higher tempo may seem like an oxymoron but it has to be heard to be believed. The craftsmanship and dedication to precision to create something as spellbinding as this without every completely abandoning their Death Metal roots is mind blowing. The next step, should an evolution be on the cards would be to follow bands like Opeth and Wilderun down the rabbit hole in search of Alice by adding Orchestral or even folk infused elements into the mix. The slow, bleak dissonant tones of “Desolation” have a shoe gazing quality to them until Männikkö offers a beast from the black depths roar around the two and a half minute mark that sees the rhythm section join in a somber and sobering tale that sounds like the soundtrack to a funeral procession. Odd time signatures and haunting riffs add to the drama of the tale of “The Chronicler” is a work of pure science fiction with lyrics that Orson Scott Card would be proud, while it’s riffs are a headbanging frenetic delight. As with most of the album, it’s a thinkers track that gives you not only some incredible music to listen to but also lyrics to read and absorb while doing so, such is their expansive nature.  “Isochron” as no witnesses remain to the ensuing violence of the lyrics. The longest cut on the album eclipses the 10 minute mark and could be considered as several separate songs in a single interlocked piece as after the four minute opening onslaught, a soaring progressive piece of lead appears like a chink of light through some black clouds that then interweaves as the heavier material comes into play [8/10]

Track listing

1. The Chain
2. Departure
3. Abandoned
4. Succession
5. Desolation
6. The Chronicler
7. Isochron

Isochron” by Denominate is out now via Inverse Records

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