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Ison - Aurora (2021) - Review

Band: Ison
Album title: Aurora
Release date: 25 June 2021
Label: Avantgarde Music
Genre: Cosmic Drone, Ambient, Post-Rock, Doom, Gothic

01. Jupiter (feat. Vila)   
02. Waves (feat. Cammie Gilbert)
03. Aurora (feat. Lisa Cuthbert)
05. Celestial (feat. Gogo Melone)
06. Retrograde (feat. Carline Van Roos)
07. Penumbra (feat. Circle&Wind)
08. Aquarian (feat. Tara Vanflower)

If the lights up in the sky could produce a sound, it would be the sound of Ison. The beauty of music, the cosmic sonic journey into the most distant, and at the same time towards the most inner places in our mind, the meditation of shimmering beings in the distant galaxies that yet feels so drearily close. An intense explosion of emotions inverts all of its power inside out and keeps repeating endlessly. Mist and purity that have converged into the same mystical thing that is chasing the night most gracefully... this is the sound of Ison.

The fourth release of the Swedish cosmic drone act Ison was once more one of the most anticipated releases for those who want to be driven away from this reality into another space. I guess that anybody who likes deeply atmospheric and emotionally driven music has already embraced everything that Ison did so far. Nevertheless, the things this time are quite different. Quite some time wasn't even sure if Ison will be still active because one half of it, Heike Langhans (Draconian, Light Field Reverie, Lorelei), left in 2019, and Daniel Änghede had to decide if to continue with this project. Fortunately, he made the right decision, and so here we have another masterpiece - Aurora. I guess that Ison is now meant as a solo act because Daniel didn't search for a new permanent singer but has found for each song another extraordinary female vocalist.

Daniel wrote all the music, sung male parts of vocals, plus he recorded, produced, and mixed with excellency the entire thing. There are some well known female singers from the dark/gothic metal/rock scene involved in this opus. You can hear the magnificent voices of Cammie Gilbert (Oceans Of Slumber), Sylvaine, Carline Van Roos (Lethian Dreams, Aythis, Remembrance), Tara Vanflover (Lycia), Gogo Melone (Aeonian Sorrow), Lisa Cuthbert, plus for me from before unknown Vila and Circle&Wind. All of the singers did a perfect job, and with virtue, but yet it sounds like some vocal lines were meant for Heike. Besides all of the mentioned singers, Daniel also got some help on bass by Niklas Sandin of Katatonia and on additional synths by his bandmate from Venus Principle and an ex-Crippled Black Phoenix member, Mark Furnevall.

Just like every previous Ison's release, Aurora also shines because of its immersive atmospheric and moody songs that smoothly build up in tension. Sometimes it feels almost unreal and transcendental. Aurora is yet the heaviest collection of songs that Ison ever released, and maybe for this is responsible Daniel's short live venture with Draconian a couple of years ago, who knows? Here are many heavy doomy parts, booming percussion, shoegaze textures and vibrant luscious gothic edges, all nicely driven and backed up with unique post-drone-rock. All of the songs feel ethereal and immensely deep, yet very powerful in their expression. Aurora is the most guitar-driven Ison's release so far, and you can hear much more of Daniel's voice than ever before.

Believe me that you'll be enchanted by the evocative "Waves", featuring the amazing Cammie Gilbert, a strong emotive and magically flowing tune with such a captivating drive. Then "Celestial", featuring the doom/dark metal voice Gogo Melone, opens up all the barriers that tie us down to everything earthly with such a mesmerizing main chorus. Each song offers something new, a new sonic dimension, and can make the listener dream away because of its cinematic nature and epic compositions. The sound is constantly moody, immersive, meditative and multi-layered, with many hauntingly lush moments. Melancholic and dark in its core, heavy, intense, reverberate but smooth, sweet and lost in reverie. This is music for dreamers, for those who want to be carried away, and can spend a lot of time with one single album penetrating their minds. Aurora is far from being an instant kick, it reveals its secrets in time, and it's absolutely not boring since it has a great replay value. Ison makes intimate music that will most certainly take you on the most beautiful sonic journey you've ever imagined. Ison's Aurora is unearthly music, maybe even from another dimension.

The review was written by Tomaz
Rating: 9,5/10


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