There is nothing like a little escapism in film or literature, so why should music be any different. I am often met with sniggers or chuckles when I mention Power Metal or the wild worlds of the mighty Bal-Sagoth but I ask you what is wrong with a little concept. Sometimes we all want to fight a dragon or transcend through time and space so why should music which is about such subjects be such a laughing matter. Perhaps it’s because being into music is seen as ‘cool’, and therefore nerdy ideas should be left out of it, well personally I say to hell with that, get imaginative.

Such conceptual ideas are often found in Death Metal, usually very Horror influenced there is none the less an underlying of oddities and stories particularly in the Technical Death Metal world, see Enfold Darkness for more details. But today we are here to talk about Ichor a Death Metal band from Germany who thrive off of concepts telling stories of a fictional underwater realm filled with demons and monsters. Starting with their Benthic Horizon record in 2010 the band have now come to 2018 and the third part of their story in the album Hadal Ascending through Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork. So gather round as I tell you a story.

First things first Ichor have a modern sound, by which I mean they edge on a little bit of Deathcore influence something I will speak of more later. However all this aside they project a clear, melodic and perhaps even Technical flare that whilst not awe-inspiring is still decent all this backed by ideas of fantasy worlds conjures up some wondrous imagery and gets my inner nerd all excited. To be fair though Hadal Ascending is a little tried and lacklustre. At points such as Tales From The Depths where so many influences fly around I am highly enthusiastic, yet for the majority of the record I yawn for I have heard these things many times before and better.

Speaking now of the Deathcore influence this is a very light and minor point, vocally the album on occasion dabbles with screams often found in Deathcore and a few of the riffs could equally be attributed to Deathcore also. However if anything this could be seen as a plus as a fan of Mental Cruelty and Infant Annihilator to name a few I have been shown that Deathcore isn’t all that bad and a little of its influence is welcome to bleed into the Death Metal underground, I by no means condemn records for exhibiting these sounds. That said Hadal Ascending could almost do with more of this influence if anything to just make it more exciting, even in tracks like Black Dragons where the musicianship is to a good standard there is still a thoroughly generic, boring mist lurking over it of exhausted riffs and little climactic moments.

All in all there are far better bands out there doing similar things, as previously noted check out Enfold Darkness who whilst employing more of an array of genres show that this level of conceptual Death Metal can work brilliantly. The appeal of Hadal Ascending is also handicapped by its Deathcore points meaning that Death Metal purists even those who are more open to a modern sound will be left angered by such a tainting. Equally for Deathcore fans there isn’t enough of the influence to keep things interesting, the odd breakdown wouldn’t even go amiss. Some stories are classic others are better left forgotten and Ichor is the later.

(4/10 George Caley)