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It's always a pleasure when a band appears out of nowhere with a fully formed, mature-sounding record. Now of course Tilburg, Holland, isn't nowhere—that's the city that doom six-piece Izah calls home—but Sistere, which comes out next week on Swedish label Nordvis, is the group's debut full-length.
That said, Izah has spent a good long time developing the lush, bleak, majestic sound on Sistere. The band formed in 2006, and one song on the album appears in an earlier version on a 2008 EP (Izah's first release of any kind, as far as I can tell—and its only other release, excepting a 2012 split with an overlapping group called Fire Walk With Us).
Today's 12 O'Clock Track, the episodic 13-and-a-half-minute "Indefinite Instinct," opens with a stately trudge whose riffs swoop, lunge, and ring (it's very much indebted to postmetal standard-bearers Neurosis and Isis, two old favorites of mine). This dissolves into what at first seems like an ambient melodic interlude, but instead ramps up slowly in intensity over several minutes, accompanied by indistinct, haranguing spoken word. At the peak of this crescendo, the song erupts into ragged howling and ponderously seesawing riffs, wrapped in billowing sheets of minor-key guitars like the glowing gas that expands around a dying star.
For its final minute and a half, "Indefinite Instinct" consists of little more than punishing impacts in groups of three, with someone screaming what sounds like the same word over and over between them and icy harmonies climbing seemingly endlessly. Like a solitary march through an arctic storm, it feels as though it could keep going indefinitely without arriving anywhere. Either you'll find a shelter that will sustain you for a bit longer, or you'll die on your feet—and after a while, it starts to seem like there isn't much difference between the two.