What a surprise, the Swedish band Isildurs Bane returns with a new studio album. The last review progVisions wrote was at the time that Isildurs Bane released their album “MIND Vol. 4“. And believe it or not, that was in the year 2003! Of course the project Isildurs Bane still existed and the band was running successful IB Expo concerts. It was at one of these IB Expo's that Richard Barbieri (Japan, Porcupine Tree) introduced vocalist Steve Hogarth (Marillion) to composer Mats Johansson. Richard and Steve had made a beautiful album together and Steve Hogarth was invited to perform on the IB Expo of 2013. After this Mats Johansson wrote songs specifically with Steve in mind. When Steve came aboard he had some great ideas that expanded the album. Steve worked on the material between touring and recording Marillion's latest studio effort “FEAR” (“Fuck Everyone And Run”). So on November 26th, 2016 at Isildurs Bane's internationally acclaimed IB Expo concerts held in Halmstad Sweden, “Colours Not Found In Nature” received its live premiere. On April 14th, 2017 the new Isildurs Bane & Steve Hogarth album “Colours Not Found In Nature” was released on the Ataraxia label.
Steve Hogarth - lead & backing vocals; Katrine Amsler - keyboards, electronics; Klas Assarsson - vibraphone, marimba, percussion; Luca Calabrese - trumpet; Axel Crone - bass, clarinets, saxophones, flute, string arrangements; Samuel Hällkvist - guitars; Mats Johansson - keyboards; Christian Saggese - classical guitar; Kjell Severinsson - drums
Liesbeth Lambrecht - violin & viola; Pieter Lenaerts - double bass; Xerxes Andrén - drums; John Anderberg - choir vocals (on The Love and the Affair); Anneli Nilsson - backing vocals (on Peripheral Vision)
The punchy album opener is called “Ice Pop” and the first thing I noticed is that the typical Isildurs Bane rock-based chamber ensemble sound is still in tact. So expect richly detailed pieces that features tuned percussion, strings, woodwind, brass and voices. This mix of contemporary classical music and rock and jazz is now combined with the dramatic and passionate voice of singer Steve Hogarth. “Ice Pop” immediately proofs that Isildurs Bane & Steve Hogarth are a golden combination. The musical palette of Isildurs Bane is impressive, immensely and intriguing. Steve vocals in the opening of “The Random Fires” reminds me of his work with Marillion. This great song shows also the earlier mentioned chamber ensemble character and has impressive percussion parts with instruments like Vibraphone and Marimba that are part of the typical Isildurs Bane sound.
The next song “Peripheral Vision” is a beautiful ballad with delicate strings and electronica. Steve Hogarth is showing the vulnerable side of his vocal range in this intensely moving ballad. Then it is time for the longest track (10:34) of the album entitled “The Love And The Affair.” The song opens with a delicate sung vocal part and slowly the tension of the music is building up. You can find the most beautiful melodies in this piece which has often a classical atmosphere. The wonderful vocals of Hogarth are bringing this great composition to the next level. For me, definitely one of the highlights of this remarkable album. In the slow ballad like “Diamonds and Amnesia” the beautiful vocals are combined with strings and the glockenspiel. The album reaches a kind of climax in the last song “Incandescent”. Another album highlight in which the force of the entire ensemble is unleashed.
So happy that the Swedish band Isildurs Bane is back with a new studio album. Hopefully the collaboration with Marillion vocalist Steve Hogarth will ensure that the band will get the attention of a bigger audience. The band of leader Mats Johansson just deserves this. After some jazz fusion influenced albums the band band transformed into a rock-based chamber ensemble and released wonderful albums like “Cheval”, “The Voyage - A Trip to Elsewhere” and the “Mind Volumes 1-4” series. And if you want to see the band in a live setting there is the DVD “Mind Volume 5 - The Observatory”. With “Colours Not Found in Nature” the band is back in the progressive scene. So far this album is one of the most remarkable albums that have been released this year. And Steve Hogarth's vocals are as always brilliant, but the Marillion fans already knew this. This is a good opportunity to open your mind and embrace the wonderful world of Isildurs Bane. Highly recommended by progVisions.