Another Side Of You

rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Enter The Void
04. In The Darkness
05. Cloudreader
06. Here We Are
08. Fairytale
09. The Horizon Awaits
10. HYMN
12. Riptide
13. Hummingbird
14. Verliebt (feat. Coen Janssen)

Founded by ELUVEITIE members Fabienne Erni and Jonas Wolf in 2019, ILLUMISHADE are a fascinating proposition. The band's 2020 debut album, "Eclyptic: Wake of Shadows", garnered some ecstatic reviews, largely due to the neat way that they eluded any obvious comparisons with either their other band or the hordes of symphonic and folk metal protagonists that Europe always has in plentiful supply. Elegantly progressive and seemingly allergic to cliché, ILLUMISHADE set out their stall with a flamboyant flourish, casually blending everything from gleaming modernity to arcane atmospherics into their always highly melodic sound. Now signed to NAPALM RECORDS, the Swiss crew have clearly spent recent years building upon the debut's great promise. Once again exhibiting a rare gift for cross-pollination and deep, nuanced songwriting, "Another Side Of You" is the biggest revelation of the year so far.

It definitely helps that Fabienne Erni is one of the finest and most charismatic vocalists around. ILLUMISHADE pull off all manner of inventive musical feats during this hour-long extravaganza, but it's their singer's enchanting presence that ties all those disparate strands together. The result is a seamless hybrid that packs a huge dramatic and emotional punch, while also serving up a kind of brutish, streamlined modern metal with all the symphonic trimmings. Songs like "ELEGY" and "ENEMY" (irritating capitalization notwithstanding!) amount to a dizzying murmuration of ideas, wherein heaviness and momentum are balanced out by the cinematic richness of each arrangement. In terms of melodies and choruses, ILLUMISHADE are a study in sweetness and light: there is a definite air of Disney-like effervescence to every hook, and "Another Side Of You" is profoundly uplifting and truly immersive as a consequence.

Less overtly poppy than, say, AMARANTHE, but possessed by the same mischievous spirit, this is a finessed body of work that promises to reveal more with every successive spin. Wolf's guitar work is particularly magnificent: ILLUMISHADE snap seamlessly from convoluted, prog metal instrumental sections to soft-focus, mystic miasmas, while always delivering the melodic money shot for which Erni's voice is plainly perfect. At times, it is startling how so many disparate ideas and musical strands are woven together, and with such meticulous attention to detail. From explosive, hyper-melodic gems like "Cloudreader" and "Riptide", to darker, more prog-inclined moments of the brooding aura and kaleidoscopic djent-isms of "Cyclone" and the show-stopping grandeur of "TWILY" ("…the way I love you"),  "Another Side Of You" is remorselessly impressive, but also incredibly beautiful and disarming. Delicate and elegiac on the hazy sweep of "Fairytale" and the tear-stained torch song of "Hummingbird", but thriving at melodic metal's cutting edge on "In The Darkness" and the aforementioned "Riptide", ILLUMISHADE are so free of contrivance that "Another Side Of You" feels gently revolutionary, as if they have stumbled upon a new way to bring these cherished but well-worn ingredients together in an entirely fresh form.

So much for the "difficult second album". This is the kind of immaculate creation from which great legacies are built. However ILLUMISHADE arrived at this point, they have absolutely owned the moment and delivered a future classic.

Author: Dom Lawson
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