Of the soldier, the mother and the son

IGNOTO MILITI: Ignoto Militi

Release year: 2021
Label: self-released

In our interview with Italian martial industrial project Ignoto Militi, current sole member of the project, Matteo, said that future releases would be slightly less all over the place and more focused. And indeed, on the EP mentioned in the same interview, there is certainly a more uniform stylistic approach in the songs.

Having changed from a duo to a one-man operation, some other things have also changed. Especially in the vocal department, as Matteo had handed the main responsibility of those to his ex-bandmate Simone. But, I am glad to say, Ignoto Militi has managed to take the changed line-up in stride, and release another fine piece of Italian martial industrial.

The three-track cassette EP, expanded to six tracks by instrumental versions of the tracks on the flipside of the tape, centers thematically around the concept of the Unknown Soldier and the monument built for this symbolically important character in Rome in 1921. Though I do not understand the Italian lyrics, the titles of the tracks, which translate to “the soldier”, “the mother” and “the son”, speak for themselves.

Stylistically, on this release Ignoto Militi’s sound is more focused on classic, even somewhat neoclassical martial industrial. Certainly no black metal here this time around, and even the neofolk elements have been toned down – although the second track, La Madre, does feature prominent neofolk elements. Nicely, the industrial elements, in the form of inorganic synths, are prominent here: the EP puts as much focus on the “industrial” part of neoclassical martial industrial as the “neoclassical”.

There is a strong melancholic atmosphere to the entirety of the EP, a sort of bittersweet sensation which encompasses the tragedy of loss, the honor of recognition, the irrevocability of death and the immortality of becoming a symbol. A sort of sorrow-enshrouded majesty, if you will, expressed in understated emotionality. Especially the spoken-word vocals, quite expressionless and distant, evoking feelings of simultaneous detachment and sadness, lend a sense of distance to the tracks. These emotions are of course fitting to the theme of the EP; the universal symbol of the Unknown Soldier certainly embodies both the glory of the fallen, the sadness of those left grieving, and the tremendous debt owed to both by the nation.

Already on the debut album, Presente (reviewed here), Ignoto Militi’s martialism took a decidedly melancholic form. Instead of bombast, belligerence or defiance, Ignoto Militi’s music embodies a sort of emotionally ambiguous sadness: does it condemn the war, lament the death of so many young men, or merely seek to honor those fallen? Especially for non-Italian speakers, this ambiguity is enhanced, leaving us to find our own answers in Ignoto Militi’s martial industrial. Like Ernst Jünger’s Storm Of Steel, or on the other hand Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet On The Western Front, Ignoto Militi refuse to be entirely explicit not in its descriptions, but its interpretations.

Is this better than Presente? I’ll give you that most annoying answer of “yes and no”. Stylistically, the more uniform approach is rewarding. I also feel that the musical expression, with more emphasis on a traditional neoclassical martial sound, works well. Presente did contain stronger standout tracks, but there’s a greater coherence here – although comparing a three-track EP to an album is not entirely fair. In the vocal department, the change of vocalist manifests itself as perhaps a slight trepidation; it’s hard to shake off the feeling that there’s a slight insecurity here. Luckily, nowhere near to the point of ruining the vocals.

At any rate, the EP is not a step backward. It may not be a major step forward, but it does consolidate Ignoto Militi’s style and expression, showing a more coherent way forward than the patchwork that was Presente. As such, it can be seen as a step forward, although qualitatively it remains by and large on the same level as Presente.

Visit Ignoto Militi on their official websiteBandcamp or Facebook

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