Yet again, Bad Elephant Music has signed an excellent band. I was very happy to see Introitus resurface under BEM, and I honestly did not expect for the new album to come so soon. “Shadows” is releasing on June 14th, and it is one of the best the band has created yet.
Introitus hails from Sweden. The line up on this album includes Mats Bender on keys, Anna Jobs Bender on vocals, Pär Helje on guitar, Dennis Lindkvist on bass, Mattias Bender on drums and vocals, and Linnéa Syrjälä on accordian, ocarina, chalumeau, and vocals. You will also hear Martin Jobs and Johanna Bender on vocals, and Helena Tenstam on flutes.
Introitus plays something akin to progressive rock. It is often folksy and even fairly heavy at times, and there is this hanging ambiance of synth and effects that really sets them apart from many other bands. Mats is one of my all-time favorite keyboardists for the lush tapestry of sounds that he creates, but the rest of the instrumentation is always top notch, especially the drumming from Mattias, and Anna’s vocals are always powerful and full of feeling.
I should probably issue a disclaimer before I go any further. I am a huge fan of Introitus and the music that they play. I originally started listening back with 2011’s “Elements”, but quickly absorbed their debut “Fantasy”, and also loved their 2014 album “Anima”. Introitus easily finds a place in my heart because they are a family effort. Mats and Anna are married, and their children have appeared in various capacities on all of their records. Their albums truly feel like family and friends coming together to make something special. This record feels no different in that regard.
I honestly think that the close nature of this relationship sets the tone for the music and this album, too. The lyrics are full of love, nostalgia, and thankfulness, while also definitely having a darker, more social commentary side, too. This particular album offers a little more sadness and desperation, though always tempered with a call to action and unity. Anna does a great job of expressing all of these emotions with some rather intense moments where she stretches her range.
I’m not going to cover all of the songs on the album, but suffice it to say that they are all excellent. “Belong” does not disappoint as the album opener. It sears with synth and melody, and I was instantly reminded of why I love this band. “Shadows” is the titular single, so to speak. It feels very familiar, almost like it could have been on “Elements”, but the ending gets more and more climactic in grand fashion. “My Hero” is a great example of the warmth that Introitus presents. It is full of appreciation and memory for one’s father, and it really grabs me because I did not and still do not have that kind of relationship with my own father. So, this song gets to me for that reason, but also because of how beautiful it is.
My two favorites are “Beyond Fantasy” and “Awakening”, though. This might be the first time that instrumental tracks on an Introitus album are my favorites, though Anna’s voice does appear in more of an instrumental capacity on them both. “Beyond Fantasy” is a real treat for long time fans. It sounds like Vangelis wrote a medley track of the band’s titular epic from their debut. It is atmospheric, but has punches of the instantly recognizable melodies from that amazing song. “Awakening” is a grand finale for the album. It is heavier than the rest of the songs, too, with lots of great guitar soloing and riffs. The second half truly feels like an awakening into bliss and peace. It is a fantastic send off until the next album.
Introitus seemingly can do no wrong. This band just has a way with words, themes, and music, and Mats’ keyboards just get better and more colorfully intuitive. I love listening to their music, and “Shadows” is yet another album to add to my playlist.