It doesn’t take much to realize that the online black metal scene has truly come to a unique point such that it’s a near-infinite expanse that houses just as many quality works that blow the mind as many uninteresting copycats. What will never cease to fascinate me, though, is finding a band that not only manages to better itself with every release but does so at an alarming rate. There are many that can claim such a wonder, but very few are actually able to deliver such excellence to any significant capacity. One of those is undoubtedly Iskandr. Barely five years since the band’s debut, it’s become a real name to know for black metal aficionados with their forthcoming work likely their most refined and honed to date.
With all the tropes that surround straight-cut underground black metal, it’s always eye-catching when we come across any work that not only manages to stand out and attempt something even slightly different but one that delivers the quality on all fronts without compromising for the sake of sticking true to the roots of black metal or meeting any arbitrary requirements needed for a “proper” black metal experience. That’s just the start of what bands like Iskandr so interesting, but then it’s just two tracks into an album like “Vergezicht” that I’d be floored to find any fan of the style dismiss it as something that isn’t gripped by what is brought forth to bring the work to life in gorgeous detail. From the occasional burst of speed to a large swathe of the six tracks played a mid-tempo pace that really enables Iskandr to work their craft at an immensely careful and calculated rate that makes it nigh on hypnotizing should you fall into the depths of the work with it being so much of what black metal can be when individuality takes hold to not only transform the style to the very will of the artist, but a cohesive extension of the spirit as any true piece of music is at its core. So much of what goes into “Vergezicht” is the exact sort of glory that I can never help but ecstatically fall right into as it’s alluring in the most mysterious way as there’s a real ethereal layer that coats every aspect of what Iskandr brings forth that manages to elevate this new effort not only engrossing but endlessly captivating for even the half-interested.
The argument can be made that works like this are becoming more common given the sheer volume of black metal acts that continue to flood into the underground in our digital age of music exposure, but there’s nothing quite like finding a work like what we’ve gotten here with a band like Iskandr being the only fitting name to deliver it. Albums like these are immensely special right from the very beginning, and it’s every layer of works like “Vergezicht” that the listener is all but compelled to call it a work of black metal that takes on a life and purpose all its own.
“Vergezicht” releases on September 24th via Eisenwald!
LISTEN to advanced tracks from “Vergezicht” on Bandcamp here.