Review: “Condemned to the Breaking Wheel” by Ischemic

Having crawled out from the catacombs of Toronto in 2012, Ischemic has been a long running project pieced together by the writing partnership of vocalist Isabelle Tazbir and guitarist Adam Korchok. Blending influences from acts like Hooded Menace, Paradise Lost and Conan, they have spent the past twelve years specialising in a sound that is capable of crushing skulls, breaking hearts and trampling crypts, combining Blackened Death with Doom Metal in their alchemy. Two EPs and two full length albums lead them to this point, the group rounded out by drummer Mrudul Kamble with bassist Lyndon Quadros making his recording debut. Produced and mixed at Erb Studio in Waterloo by Kamble who also performed some guitars before Victor Bullok (Triptykon, Celtic Frost, Dark Fortress) mastered at Woodshed Studio in Germany, the promise is of something heavy and yet revitalising…

Raw and primal, the dirge laden title track “Condemned To The Breaking Wheel” roars into life with the violent turbulence of Bolt Thrower or Frozen Soul, the pummelling percussion and mid tempo old school Death Metal riffs slicing and dicing with their way through to the cerebral cortex via the ear canals. A punishment beating in a cold, damp and dark basement torture chamber hell, the first half of the magnum opus is a twisted delight before slowing with the caustic and intense vocals from Tazbir. The Doom Metal onslaught becomes oppressive and cold, a slow trudge through the black tar pit to a place of self immolation and yet utterly triumphant by the same token. Two sides of the devil’s coin, a treasure for idle hands with both styles executed with the skill of a hangman. Blackened to the point of charring, “Tomb Fog” swirls in ethereal darkness as it threatens to reveal ghosts with its almost melancholic charms. There is of course no clean vocal from Tazbir but a skull shattering banshee like roar as the inner surface of her throat is scaled with the intense heat she creates. Bleak and murky, the icy waters of this grave offer only death.

Eerie with a haunting touch of dissonance, the equally brutal “Rust and Bones” is just as savage as the earlier pair of offerings but has a seemingly sharper cutting edge. Churning and chugging the beast rises from the black depths once more, the splendour of the blackened leads matched by the power of the drummer Mrudul Kamble. Depravity doesn’t usually come with an emotionally charged atmosphere but the first half of “Abandon” has that aspect nailed to it as a journey through desolation and despair. In many ways it encapsulates the bands ability to create an almost trance inducing hypnotic hellscape, it has a curious shoegazing quality to it despite having fleeting moments of ferocity. Perhaps a more rounded effort than Ischemic have previously offered, this one feels like being sandblasted from the inside out, the four tracks spanning 30 minutes of cavernous noise that you will never forget… [8/10]

Track Listing

  1. Condemned to the Breaking Wheel
  2. Tomb Fog
  3. Rust and Bones
  4. Abandon

Condemned to the Breaking Wheel” by Ischemic is out 5th April 2024 and is available over at bandcamp.

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