I always love it when a band surprises me. I happened upon Ignea’s latest single on YouTube the other day; or, rather, the site autoplayed it for me after something else. I loved it immediately, and then realized that I already had a promo kit for the album. What luck! Ignea’s “The Realms of Fire and Death” released on April 17th, and I’m really enjoying it.
Ignea (meaning “flaming” in the feminine) comes to us from Ukraine. I had some expectations about the band right away, thinking them more in line with symphonic metal, such as Delain or Epica. While that is partially the case, I think they are much more than that. The current lineup is difficult to find online, but I believe it includes: Evgeny Zhytnyuk on vocals and keys, Helle Bogdanova on vocals, Alexandr “Xander” Kamyshin on bass, Dmitri Vinnichenko on guitars, and Ivan Kholmohorov on drums.
Ignea plays a progressive metal that mixes in elements of symphonic, folk, and electronica. You will hear lush, majestic keyboards, but also folk melodies, especially Middle Eastern, and you will also hear plenty of electronic loops and accents. The band seems to mix all of this seamlessly, without a hitch. On top of that, Helle lays down both melodious clean vocals and also brutal harsh vox, something which really becomes a highlight with multiple listens.
“The Realms of Fire and Death” is a concept album with multiple short stories therein. These stories can be found in a book that comes with the album, too. These tales are something like fairy tales, and they have some rather profound moral messages. One story, for example, involves a queen who is told that a twin will be the one to kill her. She sets out to kill all twins in her kingdom before seeing the error of her ways. The stories are interesting, and something to ponder.
The band is rather good at crafting songs with explosive intros, orchestral melodies, catchy choruses, and brutal waves of riffs. Some songs are heavy on harsh vox, such as the opener “Queen Dies”, but they are always balanced with some very beautiful clean singing, too. Some songs are more like a ballad, such as the addictive “What For”, which is very folk-oriented and such a joy. There is even a song performed in the band’s native tongue, called “Чорне Полум’я (Chorne Polumia)”. Honestly, I love the sound of their native language, and it works really, really well, especially with the waves of electronica and heavy riffing. The song is also available in English as a bonus at the end of the disc, and it is called “Black Flame” there.
I like every song on the album, though. “Out of My Head” sounds quite progressive, and the chorus really sticks with me. “Í Tokuni” is an Eivor cover, and they nail the sound, making it feel wistful and eerie. Some of my favorite moments on the record are the heaviest, most unleashed songs, such as “Too Late to Be Born”, which is unrelenting and amazing.
I think the last three songs on the album are the best, though. “Gods of Fire”, “Jinslammer”, and “Disenchantment” are a whirlwind of music, lush with beautiful soundscapes, ravaging riffs, and electronic accents. “Disenchantment” was the single that I heard initially, and it has a Middle Eastern bent to the sound, something like Orphaned Land would do. These three songs really demonstrate why I love this album, and display the carefully crafted vocal lines that elevate the music so much.
Ignea have a winner on their hands. There isn’t a weak song on the album, and I find myself humming the songs all the time. “The Realms of Fire and Death” seems like a labor of love in every way, outshining other similar albums this year already. I’m looking forward to following this group in the future.
Find Ignea online: