Ithaca – They Fear Us: Album Review

Ithaca return with their second album, They Fear Us; a blistering mix of hardcore, prog, power pop and industrial metal.

Released: 29th July 2022

Label: Hassle Records

Format: CD / LP / Digital

Ithaca made a solid statement on their debut back in 2019 with The Language Of Injury. They laid down a marker and showed how much of a punch they could pack. Now, Ithaca return with They Fear Us. And you should. The nine songs contained herein are stupendously huge. There are massive riffs, soaring solos, beautiful melodies, crushing rhythms, impassioned vocals and a whole host of other aspects sprinkled amongst.

At 35 minutes long, this is a concise piece that doesn’t really give you time to breathe, such is the pummelling, breakneck nature of the record.

On They Fear Us, Ithaca state that this is a band being unapologetically themselves; finding their voice and standing firmly by it. The title track was the first single and features a hypnotic riff pattern as well as a superb blend of harsh and clean vocals.

There is also a vocal sample used in the middle of the song which the band explain; ‘The vocal sample is a field recording Sam  (Chetan-Welsh, guitarist) made while he was in India grieving his mother’s death, of a priest leading a Ganga Aarti ceremony next to the Ganges – this ceremony invites Mother Ganga in and asks for her blessing, reflecting the power of the divine feminine. The drum break is pitched up to create a similar sound to a dhol.’ The whole song is truly fascinating.

The album opens up with In The Way. Distorted drums and angry, harsh screams adorn the early strains. Tender, clean vocals give way but the aggression is retained in the music supporting the vocals. According to singer Djamila Boden Azzouz In The Way is ‘a revenge fantasy. Pleasure, blood, violent vengeance.‘ You would be hard pressed to disagree.

Whilst the band are adept at breakneck riffing and destructive drum breaks, the band show off their technical chops on The Future Says Thank You. Several time changes, lots of vocal ingredients and a range of harmonic styles make for a truly exciting mix. The song feels claustrophobic and doesn’t allow you time to take stock until the end.

In the middle of the album, Cremation Party and Number Five, clock in at just over five minutes in length. Both songs are aggressive and unrelenting. Cremation Party again employs the hypnotic guitar riffs amongst some truly gargantuan drumming. Number Five has plenty of the aforementioned technicality in the mix as well as more great juxtaposition of vocal styles.

Camera Eats First is another blistering piece which also has a stunning but disturbing video showing off a range of emotions; beauty, pain, gluttony, luxury…the band say; ‘With this video we’re using stark contrasts to create a sense of pure unease – rococo indulgence meets clinical experiment, luxury with grotesque gorging, beauty with violence. The discomfort is designed to hold up a mirror to ourselves; in an era of self-surveillance and constant presentation, who is in control, who is the aggressor and, ultimately, are you devouring or is the camera devouring you?‘ Musically, Ithaca embody these sentiments and the mix of aural and visual fit perfectly. Art should be challenging and this is certainly challenging; in the best way.

For all the heaviness and hardcore elements of the album, the closer, Hold, Be Held, offers light and hope. The title in itself says a lot, but the twinkling guitars and beautiful vocals create something truly dreamlike and anthemic. A guitar solo that evokes so much emotion and vocals that are dense in ardour end this record in spellbinding fashion.

Ithaca really are a vital band. Their music, what they stand for, their identity and their general aura all come together in superb fashion on They Fear Us. This is a record that will stand up for years to come. It’s huge.

Listen to and watch Camera Eats First from Ithaca below. You can pre-order the new album here.

Ithaca: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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