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Ivan : Memory

Ivan deliver two sprawling string-heavy tunes that fail to stand out during their epic runtime.

Symphonic Doom/Death metal is a tricky genre sometimes. Melodies must be carefully placed within the confines of heavy guitars moving in and out of harmony and if something is off or used too heavily you risk the entire composition. Australian based band Ivan have returned with their third full length and while the experience of the band shows , these two sprawling songs fail to really move me as a listener… Lets dig in, shall we?

OK, first off it's clear this is an experienced band. Even if I had no idea they had two albums prior I would most likely assume that these guys have plenty of experience as musicians within the Doom genre. The melodies are all pretty, the guitars churn behind the strings and keys without fail and strong growls permeate the entire album. So what's the problem? Well, I feel like after the first five minutes of the track you've really been shown what you're in store for without any real deviation. The tempo never really fluctuates, you're never really given a break from the strings or keys, the guitars aren't there to hook you rather just to provide a heavy backbone to the melodies, but most importantly there's never a emotional highpoint or release within the compositions. So, while every melody was crafted with care and is quite nice, they never really move past that feeling. It's nice sounding and doesn't want to risk moving from that and that lack of risk taking is quite apparent when the songs cycle between a few parts for an entire twenty minute song.

I will say though that the use of strings seems a bit heavy handed. Backing off from them a bit more would give the melodies more impact and add a slight bit of variation to the song. In fact, the second track 'Time Is Lost' is by far and away the superior track of the two. All it took was backing off a bit and putting the strings behind the guitars for a bit to let the strings shine afterwards. Also, the guitars are more varied here as well and we even have a clean guitar break! It's a very welcome change of pace after almost 35 minutes of non-stop strings. More of this please! Really, I feel like lots of time could be shaved off these tunes without them really losing impact at all. I mean like AT LEAST 6 or 7 minutes each and you would still have had enough time to move through each section multiple times. So while the entire album was crafted carefully from a point of experience it feels like they weren't critical enough to cut some of the fat off.

Sound-wise what we have here is well executed. The drums are clear and pound without ever dominating, the guitars are clear and heavy but don't have anything really to make the tone stand out, and the vocals are nicely mixed just far enough behind everything where they really sound good on each song. I will say that I wish the strings were down just a tad, there was more than once where it kind of jarred me a bit. Which is not something you'd want when you're playing delicate melodies! The keys are nice though, clean and airy they do their job adequately without ever really breaking loose (there is a nice section where they get highlighted by themselves during 'Time Is Lost'…but are quickly taken over by the strings again).

As a matter of fact it seems like the two composers really wanted the strings to be the showcase, which is odd considering they are provided by a session musician on this release. Regardless, I really feel like if they were tamed a bit they could have had a couple stronger, more concise and varied compositions… And that's if nothing else was changed! Basically, I feel like if some fat was trimmed the album would be so much stronger but as it stands it just kind of plods on till the end. Even the ending just kind of stops without trying to really give the listener something to remember! The length of the tracks doesn't justify the amount of ideas that are presented here and without any breakout highlights it's tough to get through. If Ivan decides to really get critical and experiment and trim their songs then we could have a winner on the next one, otherwise I probably won't remember 'Memory' past the cool artwork.

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Reviewer's rating: 5/10


Tracklist :
2.Time Is Lost

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the Ivan bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-12-02 by Eli Elliott
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