On Ithenfal’s Wing follow on from their mighty album Key To Then with this astonishingly creative, emotional new project A Fine Light Snow. Less than a year ago the band’s sound first came to our attention, and now – an entirely new collection of songs, ten tracks in total, make for a thoughtful and provocative new journey.
Rise To A Lasting Stage as an opener brings back that familiar OIW tone pretty quickly, though the song does have a certain change in direction about it. This chorus of voices appears among a surprisingly organic soundscape – the progressive rock aura remains, as does the medieval twang, but there’s an unexpected purity to the melody and the overall sound. The song sounds huge, anthem-like in many ways – the band chant these ideas in poetic, inviting manners.
Rarely these days do we get to stumble upon deeply considerate, profound and clever poetry such as that found throughout this album. Music aside, the lyricism comes reminiscent of centuries old literature and poetic writing. Glory And Science is a strong example, presenting lines that provoke a deeper way of thinking and offer a string of metaphorical concepts that are so much more than the surface can show. Meanwhile, instrumentally – this track offers a unique and dramatic build up; drums, guitars and vocals all intertwine and collide and collaborate as the intensity rises. What the band does is create these intense experiences that seem to lift you out of normality or the predictable noise of the modern world.
And after all the wasted cause did inspire life in this yearning spirit...
A Fine Light Snow is a concept album, dealing with the theme of death as a result of disease or prolonged suffering. The title may appear to inspire hope, but it’s not certain, and though there is definite anger and varying passion throughout, there are other moments that do seem to seek a kind of solace among the chaos of pain. Witch-hunt showcases this well, beginning with an acoustic passage that’s contrasted by lyrics that call for battle or even vengeance. Transcendence does too – a gorgeously calming, reverb-soaked guitar line accompanies a near-whispered vocal that pours genuine human depth and difficulty into the process. A definite highlight. As with their previous work, the band utilize contrast and theatrical evolution to great effect.
…can we transcend all demons in our own beautiful minds?
There’s a notable level of softness on this project that reflects well the realization of the impending or imminent experience of death among the presence of pain. The quiet and the loud walk in unison, needing each other in order to function or have any worth. As The Old Kings Once Did continues the journey and draws your focus to the inescapable nature of the topic – the inevitable truth; the shared struggle that has always played a part in human life.
Musically, My Own Doppelganger stands out for its simple but captivating guitar picking and this slightly haunting, softly desperate leading voice that slowly fills the room. Things progress and grow in spectacular fashion, seeing the concept underlined by every single element – not merely the lyrics. Freedom follows and is another highlight for its comforting accessibility, its mellow but uplifting rhythm and chord progression, and some superb latter-half guitar solos. The song touches on the will, consolation of the self and love for the self no matter what – the build up and the peak of the final chorus represent this well.
In Astral Form adds further to the impressive and immersive, memorable nature of the guitar work on much of this project. That trembling vocal reappears, tentatively, and the lyrics subsequently fascinate in this setting. The title track afterwards leads with a hard-rock aura and the re-grouping of those collective voices; for the full hit of togetherness and drama. Even with its weight, the song feels strangely uplifting – it seems to embrace the listener and raise them up above their difficulties. In reality, it’s about the start of acceptance to the circumstances at hand – i.e. death – with a yearning towards possibly childhood, as the lyrics at the end of the second section imply: “can’t I go and try again from the start?”
Elegy/March ends the album with an acoustic aura and a simple, descending melody that quietly calms things down to stillness – the last words, the final breath, the aftermath. Still there seem to be flickers of hope here, perhaps unintentional but somewhat beautiful nonetheless.
This is another interesting and completely unique album, from a band whose sound is unmistakable. A powerful follow-up to their previous release and a musically mighty playlist.