IMMORTAL BIRD - "Empress/Abscess" - Review

My understanding of what the suffix “–core” means in metal was never clear. It seems that whenever there is a “–core” element then the music has got to have some connection to hardcore/punk. But more often than not this doesn’t happen. A better description, outside of any method in songwriting would be: Extreme music with intense delivery and expression of emotion in a raw manner.

Immortal Bird have this element in their music. Not only in their riff sequencing and assaulting drumming, which are dominant throughout the album, but with the intense performance of the singer. Her delivery is constantly on the edge and when she sings/yells “The journey is a lie. There is nowhere left but further down” you know that despair, loathing for someone else or the self, hatred and nihilism are at the core of “Empress/Abscess”.

The lyrics give the listener the opportunity to create short stories inspired by the sparse description of environment and the inner dialogue. When this happens it helps come closer, emotionally, to what the musicians are expressing. Too vague and no images can be created. Too precise and it lacks emotional reference.

While I prefer the music to create the environment, from which the vocal lines and lyrics come from, this feels that they turned the table and followed another route. It feels like the music was created to support the vocal delivery, creating a linear personal expression and the music was built from top to bottom. As a result it feels like the whole of it serves as a means of narration. There is a sense of urgency throughout, about something horrible that is imminent and is expected. Like a traumatic experience happening again and again.

When it hits the nail it hits it hard. “Saprophyte” is the best constructed song and the built up that can cause an abundance of emotions. It starts with a short repetitive riff and the drums that hold a steady pace, with a high pitched lead guitar leading the way for the vocal lines. Then it hits you slowly:

“Push words through my teeth
Watch them flutter like wounded insects
Only to sprawl twitching on the ground.”

Those lyrics can create strong images with the metaphor preparing for the next ‘wounded insects to flutter out’. The drums create greater circles when she yells: “We will not survive. We cannot survive” and the lyrics “I offered tender flesh. You brought your heavy hands” give a strong sense of what is being described here. “She is an abscess, masquerading as an empress. A sparrow passing for an ibis.” Maybe these lyrics reveal what exactly is Immortal Bird.

After all, everything is in vain because “We are all museums of flesh and fear. Exhibits of failure and false light.”

All the songs are crafted in the same way, but they are not of the same level. “Empress/Abscess” shows that they are close at having their own trademark sound but the song structure fails sometimes at maintaining the sense of agitation and urgency within the environment that they create. For example the last song, “And Send Fire” has two endings. One in the middle, where an assaulting outro follows and then a third section of ambience that has no reason for being there. End it at the seventh minute and then you are done and I am done and we are all done.

They are not there yet, but they are well on their way. Overall, since they created this intense impact in a short album, with no air and fillers, then I’d say it is successful. The lyrics may or may not be based on actual experiences but art can be an act of redemption for us all, even if “the idea of redemption is insulting.”

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