IKU-TURSO: Storm Over Isengard
Release year: 2019
Label: Wolfspell Records/His Wounds
Were it not for the title of the mini-album, Dutch-Finnish Iku-Turso would come across as shamelessly ripping off the entire style of certain classic 90’s Norwegian black metal acts. But by embedding those artists into the name, emulation is cleverly turned into tribute.
If it isn’t obvious by now, on this release Iku-Turso go into total Storm and Isengard mode, tapping the folk-tinged Norwegian black metal of these classic side projects. To further underline their point, Iku-Turso even cover Satyricon’s Du Som Hater Gud in a Dutch translation called Jij Die Got Haat.
So, originality: not relevant in the least here. There’s no attempt at that here. Instead, the artistic success of the mini-album is better judged by how well they manage to recreate the buzzsawing folky sound of Storm’s sole album Nordavind and Isengard’s material. And the answer is, I am happy to say: quite well!
Storm Over Isengard manages to admirably emulate the folky lo-fi epicness of both Storm and Isengard, from the brittle and buzzing sound, the hoarse croaked vocals, the sort of over-the-top clean vocals and the atmospheric synths in the background to the songs themselves. The band do lace things with some elements which remind me more of late 90’s/early noughties Finnish folk-y black metal, the kind of bands who themselves had probably OD’d on Storm and Isengard, which on occasion removes the mini-album from pure Norway-worship.
One remark about the clean vocals, though: they stay too much on key!
As a tribute to this one slice of the old Norwegian scene, Storm Over Isengard is a satisfactory and pretty neat little release. It manages to capture a lot from the style and feel of aforementioned artists, although unsurprisingly it’s not as good as, say, Nordavind (a long-time favourite of mine). It’s too derivative for that. But I’d be surprised if the guys in Iku-Turso themselves weren’t aware of this. By putting the tributory nature of the album to the front, it becomes sort of obsolete as well: tributes don’t need to try to do one better.
Storm Over Isengard is a fun little recording, which will instantly feel familiar to those who’ve spent incessant amounts of time listening to Nordavind, Isengard’s albums and, to some extent, early Satyricon etc. That feeling of ice-cold tundras, frozen winter winds and snow-covered silent forests is conveyed admirably well.
Nice one, guys!