Even though this super-talented American band are new to me, this is actually their second release, which I am assured follows on perfectly from their previous album released in 2017. To be fair, there is so much variation and melded Metal styles deliciously served up here, that the previous album could have been any manner of Metal and this one could have easily followed it! Blending elements of Black, Death and Post Metal effortlessly with Melodic Progressive Metal, this is an album that demands your attention from start to finish.

There’s just so much being whipped up and mashed together in Vintersea’s sound that I first wanted to draw attention to how cohesive and connected it all is. The technical music is well thought out and expertly arranged and delivered, and just in case this wasn’t enough, it’s all crowned superbly by the fabulous varied vocals of Arienne. In a moment, I’m going to try and describe the band’s style with a few vague comparisons, but it needs to be remembered that Arienne does ALL the vocal styles! So, let’s start with a bit of Sirenia, then at the Extreme end add in a bit of Orphanage and Borknagar, then towards the progressive end you have everything from Madder Mortem, Oceans Of Slumber, Echoes Of Eternity, Ihsahn, Devin Townsend and To-Mera. But really Vintersea don’t actually sound like any of them! Ha-ha – By that, I mean, just as you think you have a handle on a part of their sound, it seamlessly segues into another – and that could be any similar style relating to any of the artists mentioned above…if you see what I mean.

This is not album to be judged on first listen – all that introduction does is impress you. Vintersea will throw anything into the mix that they feel works, and it usually does. Like maybe…oh I don’t know…how about a saxophone solo, just before a blast-beat driven Black Metal passage, then after that an Opeth-style prog interlude, to be then slapped around the face with a Latino-metal section that Diablo Swing Orchestra would be proud of, growing into another Extreme Metal bit, and cutting into a hook-laden progressive chorus-type thing. So that’s basically just three minutes of ‘Crack Of Light’ covered…so you see where I’m coming from? This is not an album I’m going to get a grasp of in a few listens over a week or so, I know it has so much more to give and that just adds to the interest. But it also has plenty to hook you in that make you WANT to hear it all again. “Illuminated” is not particularly like any other album and Vintersea are not like any other band. They have so much to offer to so many genres – no boundaries, no rules – this is a great definition of Progressive Metal.

(8.5/10 Andy Barker)