I think it’s fair to say, that within the genre of extreme metal, you can get away with quite a bit, and certainly within the realms of black metal…

…Well, you can actually get away with releasing something that…erm, isn’t very good really.

All subjective of course, and it could be argued that I’m “missing something” or failing to appreciate the often strict laws of procedure, but sorry, the “highly anticipated” album from Ukrainian “one-woman black metal formation” Ieschure is (by all accounts) a bit rubbish.

The rather generic intro “Shadows from the Great Beyond” doesn’t give much away, but when “Eternal Wheels of Life” kicks in, it distinctly feels like founding (and presumably only) member Lilita Arndt is havin’ a laugh.

Yes, I know that it’s supposed to harken back to the grim atmosphere of yore, but ‘The Shadow’ makes early Darkthrone sound like Yes. The muffled production is sure to irritate, and vocally, some of it sounds like Elmo being tortured in a dungeon. Certainly, any artist’s vision and commitment should be championed, but the demo quality (for a legitimate release) cannot be ignored.

The album isn’t totally without merit though, but you may have to dig deep.

‘Mystic Schizophrenia’ features some nifty keyboard flourishes, and the medieval style riff of ‘What Waits in the End’ is pretty interesting, but most of the tracks buzz in a flurry of ideas that don’t seem to gel together. It almost works on ‘Condemned to Death’, which features a great crawling riff, strong drums and a better melodic vocal approach. But with the Casio percussion of ‘Before the New Dawn Comes’, and the lengthy keyboard dirge of the outro, I think you may struggle.

Weirdly enough, you kind of get used to the sound, but I’m not sure that warrants a recommendation, of a record that may not invite a repeated listen.

The attitude and conviction on display here is commendable, but unfortunately ‘The Shadow’ is a bit of a mess.

(2/10 Stuart Carroll)