I love discovering bands through more of a grassroots experience. I first found Imminent Sonic Destruction by seeing them live when they opened for Haken in 2015. Since then, my fondness for them has grown. They are back after over 5 years with a new record called The Sun Will Always Set, and I feel that it represents their further evolution and maturation as artists. It releases on April 15th.
ISD comes to us from Detroit, Michigan. They’ve been around since their first EP in 2008 (under the name Mellotrön), and this new record is their third studio album. The lineup includes Tony Piccoli on lead vocals and guitar, Pat DeLeon on drums, Bryan Paxton on bass, Pete Hopersberger on keyboards and vocals, and Scott Thompson on guitar and vocals. You’ll also hear guest musicians, including Tony Asta on guitar, Lady Luna on vocals, Raphael Weinroth-Browne on cello, and Kevin Wrobel on vocals.
You know, when I first saw ISD, I was impressed with their gigantic riffs. I think anyone would come away from their first ISD experience with that in the forefront of their minds. But this band is more than that. I’ve learned this through the years, such as when they opened for Lux Terminus in Cleveland a few years ago, or when Tony released his ambient album Mercury at Dawn last year (you need to hear and appreciate that record, too). These musicians have more to offer than just monstrous moments of metal.
I think The Sun Will Always Set proves this. Looking at their previous offerings, the riff was king, even on their recent live album (which is also amazing). This new album is a little more balanced, a little more reserved. Great care has been taken to construct gorgeous melodies as a contrast to the hefty metallic sound. Yes, the band is still heavy and rather disciplined in how they groove and surge together, but there are also segments that are more ambient and musing in their effect. Yes, there are fireworks, but also filtering melodies of the purest light.
This is, by far, my favorite album from the band, then. It feels like the record the band was meant to make someday, and everything before it was just to lead to this moment in time. Each and every track has a purpose. Nothing feels like filler. Everything matters.
The Sun Will Always Set has seven tracks. I love the opener “Arise”, a harmonious piece with Raphael’s cello and Lady Luna’s vocals creating tender anticipation and light. It feels rather cinematic and, in all honesty, I wondered if I had started the wrong album. I was thrilled when I realized that this was indeed ISD. Have no fear, though, because the very next track, “Fledgling”, is dark and heavy, and satisfyingly so. I should mention here how truly good the performances are: Tony and Scott’s guitars are certainly some of the best around, and Pat’s drums and Bryan’s bass are fierce and technical. I specifically love Pat’s drums—I can’t get enough. On top of that, Pete’s keys add so much to the band’s sound, from the glorious piano on the opener to haunting aura in songs like “Source”.
Speaking of that song, “Source” is such a cool track. I love the stilted and powerful central rhythm, and how astonishingly heavy it gets. “The Core” is similar in that regard, being heavy and probably even darker with harsh vox. Yet, right after these heavy tracks, the band gives us “Solitude”, something closer to a ballad with very little metal in its sound. Honestly, it might have more pop in its sound than metal. I love the range.
The last two tracks on the album are another exercise in contrast. “Nightshade” is the epic, so to speak, at a little over 12 minutes in length. It is probably my favorite overall, too, with its transitions between dark metallic soundscapes and the acoustic chorus. You’ll hear Pete lay down a searing keyboard solo in the second half, too, which is absolutely amazing. Finally, the title track arrives, and it is not what you might expect. Rather than close with a monster track, this is a reserved, whimsical, and gentle song with meaningful musical space and a hopeful aura. Some of it even reminds me of the aforementioned Mercury at Dawn ambient record from Tony, and Lady Luna lends her voice her again. And, you know what? The band nails it. They took on the challenge of diversifying their sound, and they achieved that with flying colors.
There is more to ISD than I even knew, even having followed them for about 7 years now. They are just as good at crafting moments of tenderness as they are at dousing us with metallic fervor. The Sun Will Always Set is a perfect example of the balance and nuance they can muster, while they also feed us the heaviness we crave. I am seriously impressed, and I suspect this album will only get better with age.
Find ISD online: