I love progressive metal that is absolutely soaked in melody and emotion. I think most of us do. Yet, I’m still pleasantly surprised when I find a newer band that pulls off that sound, as it does take a certain amount of maturity. Issun’s sophomore album “Dark Green Glow” released on June 21st, and I am definitely impressed by what I am hearing.
The band hails from Germany. At first, the band was a bit mysterious, as their information is a little difficult to find. However, the band got back with me on this. The band lineup includes Tobias Schröder on vocals, keys, and percussion; Simon Schröder on drums; Marc Andrejkovitson on bass, and Markus Ottenberg on guitars.
The music here is progressive metal, but isn’t bombastic or overwhelmingly technical. It almost feels like the band accidentally made an album that falls into that subgenre, honestly. The music is poetic, illustrious, and ponderous. You’ll hear soothing nature sounds, delicate piano interludes, and cinematic atmospheres. You will also hear fantastic grooves, catchy choruses, and that x-factor of inspiration that is difficult to describe.
The band obviously takes influence from some of the grand pop songs of the 70s and 80s, and I honestly hear Steve Perry’s lush melodies throughout the album. The music therefore feels like it has dimension and depth. It never feels flat or generic. It truly feels like an event of some sort.
Issun likes to make songs that build to grand climaxes, and much of that can be attributed to the Tobias’ vocal range and keys. He has a higher pitch to his voice, but you’ll hear him play with his range quite a bit, going pretty deep several times. In fact, when he does some of the grittier vox on a few songs, I swear he sounds like a young Daniel Gildenlöw. Combined with those vocal chops, his keys sweep through to whisk the song away to grander moments often, as well. All of this is grounded well by powerful bass and guitars, and grand drums fills.
Issun has mentioned that the album is conceptual. It revolves around the story of a child’s night terrors, and those nightmares include a green, glowing forest of mystery and darkness. It’s quite potent, I must say, mainly because of all the sound effects that really bring the forest to life.
I have several favorites on the album. Some of them are simply catchy, like “Jessica”, or full of great riffs, like “Sleep in the Forest”. Others have plenty of texture and create pictures in your mind, like “Dark Green Glow”. Still others break the band’s mold a bit, almost sounding like 70s prog rock, like “Remember Me”.
While some songs are easily described, some of them have many more gears moving under the hood. “Lost Generation” is the single, and a good representation of the album. I love the vocals, and I love the swelling melodies near the end. “Falling Away” is a gentler, melody-driven track. The vocals near the end are real ear candy, and I love the piano interlude at the very end. “Tempest of Laughter” might be the one most prog fans would be talking about, as it is a 17 minute epic that transitions between huge metallic moments, vocal musings, and piano/nature ambiance.
Overall, Issun has a splendid album on their hands. They have shown us that they have the maturity and ear for great melodies and transitions. This is just one of those bands that feels like they are ready to break out into the big time, at least in prog. “Dark Green Glow” offers a little bit of everything, and so it really should be on your list.
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