Hailing from Finland, we have the debut from death/blackers Illusions Dead, which like Enthean proves that three people is really all you need to make a great band. It's admittedly a thick record where much of the production seems to have made many of the riffs a bit tough to discern, but if you turn it up a little you'll be able to hear much more of the melody and perhaps some of the technical moments fueling this onslaught as well. Johannes Katajamaki manages to put forth a hefty scowl, which certainly works a lot better with this than I think a growl would have. It would have honestly made things sound even muddier. (A growled vocal approach does appear on “Tormentor Of The Weak” and “The Way Of The Deceiver” however.) Nevertheless, his performance can be audibly heard and is quite fierce in spite of everything else. If you've got your volume turned up at this point, then you should be able to hear some of the truly gorgeous fucking leads on this record, so unfavorably stuffed behind the mist as “Shadow and Flame” portrays.
Katajamaki and Jake Lastujoki are both on guitar duty (also like Enthean, very bizarre) which admittedly leads to a great deal of expression in that department. You won't actually be hearing as much of a vocal implement here as you will the guitars, especially on a longer piece like “Revolution (Celestial Spheres)” which rounds out to almost seven and a half minutes in length. The drums also play a large role in the instrumentation of the band, as Akseli Auralianna blasts the kit as much as he provides an unexpected doom thunder. The Finns love their doom, so it doesn't surprise me that they'd experiment with that here and it definitely adds another notch to what begins as a rather melodic, though extravagantly evil during these doom moments that the musty atmosphere works to their advantage however, as I find myself grinning from ear to ear when my foot is placed in my mouth as that very growled vocal approach that I felt would make things more muddy actually seems to set them off without a hitch. Problem is, they can't keep it up for “The Way Of The Deceiver” which sees the growls drowned out completely by everything else. But I'll be lenient, as Celestial Decadence is still a rather solid disc and it's certainly worth listening to despite the fog... and yes, I do realize that some of you out there will actually like the foggy production as well. In any case, I think that these Finns have quite a bit to offer insofar as I've heard in this forty-five minute offering and so much ground is covered (especially the unexpected doom) that I think there's a lot of promise to be had here. Celestial Decadence is an album full of great riffs, powerful vocal performances and the very spirit of black/death/doom that I feel speaks for itself. Like some of the other bands I've reviewed this week, you'll need to give a couple of tracks a listen before you fully submit to this one, but it reminds me a little of some of those rougher Amon Amarth discs like The Crusher, so I wouldn't pass it by. As I said, turn up your speakers and then give it a listen. I think you'll like it better at a loud volume and the atmosphere it conveys seems to require a high amount of decibels. It's almost akin to haring them live, which certainly isn't a bad thing. At least we know that they can pull it off on the stage just as well as they have done here. There aren't a lot of bands that can actually say that these days, much as they would like to have you believe.
(8 Tracks, 41:00)