Ilium – Carcinogeist
Released: March 21st, 2020
Jason Hodges | Guitars
Adam Smith | guitars, drums, bass, keyboards
Lord Tim | vocals
Tim Yatras | drums
Newcastle is an interesting part of Australia. The first things that come to my mind when I think of that spot on the central coast of New South Wales are steel works, mullets, Holden utes and not much else. But look closer and you find it’s a pretty fertile breeding ground for some damn good metal bands. Ilium is one such band. The boys have been together in one form or another since 1998 and have managed to stay relevant through to the present day. Trawling through their back catalogue and you’ll find although the band has progressed and evolved over the years, they’ve stayed true to their traditional metal roots. The line up may have changed dramatically but the core of guitarist Jason Hodges and multi-instrumentalist Adam Smith have kept the project steady. Their latest offering Carcinogeist sees the return of vocalist Lord Tim (Lord) and Tim Yatras (Lord, Austere). That’s a pretty potent line up in anyone’s book.
Although the band take their influences from traditional metal bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath etc there is a decidedly power metal bent to their music. The opening track ‘Imbecylum’ is a perfect example of this. There’s no long slow intro, the song leaps from the speakers at a frantic pace, the twin guitar attack reminiscent of early Helloween. Throw in a rousing chorus and some tasteful keyboards and you’d be forgiven for thinking this was born of Hamburg, Germany rather than Newcastle, Australia. The title track ‘Carcinogeist’ has a dirtier, darker sound mixing in thrash with power metal. This is where Lord Tim really unleashes his impressive upper register with smooth clean soaring vocals, before coming back into his lower range with menacing growls.
‘Haunted By The Ghost Of Me’ slows the tempo slightly in this unashamedly old school metal song. Adam Smith’s keyboard and Jason Hodges guitar exchange tasty licks while the lyrics are delivered with angst and passion. It may only come in just over three minutes but this song should be on everyone’s favourite mixtape. From one of the shorter songs to the longest, ‘Harlequin Tree’ is a nightmarish carnival of horrors. It twists and turns with complex layers, you can just close your eyes and get swept up in the insanity. The song evokes visions of evil clowns in bright costumes haunting your dreams, but eventually swinging by the neck from a tree. The nightmare continues with ‘Uncle Rupert’s Puppet Show’. Although this isn’t a story conjured from some ancient mythology, this is the world we live in. Ilium take a well-deserved at the swipe at the evil old puppet master Rupert Murdoch and his band of media trolls. This one leapt into my list of favourites with lyrical gems like “he’s very old and wrinkly, there’s no doubt he’s insane”.
The album ends where it began with a nod to the gods of power metal. ‘Vigilante Vagrant’ has all the ingredients of a great metal song, harmonising guitars, soaring vocals, technical timing changes all wrapped around a heroic story.
If you’re into melodic power metal with a European flavour you’ll find plenty to like about Carcinogeist. The boys have gone all Christmas in April so grab a copy now and you get a bonus of their 2019 EP Enviro-Metal. Believe me when I say that’s worth it if only for the cover of the Split Enz classic ‘I Got You’
Ilium – Carcinogeist tracklisting:
- Haunted By The Ghost Of Me
- Messiah For The Broken
- Harlequin Tree
- The Serpent Maligned
- Uncle Rupert’s Puppet Show
- Question Air
- Vigilante Vagrant