Album Review: Illumishade – Another Side of You (Napalm Records)

Swiss modern metal upstarts Illumishade unveil their sophomore record and Napalm Records debut, Another Side of You, out on February 16th, 2024. Fronted by vocalist Fabienne Erni and guitarist Jonas Wolf (both of Eluveitie) and completed with orchestration and synths by film composer Mirjam Skal, bass by Yannick Urbanczik, and drums by Marc Friedrich.

Photo Credit: Victoria Wonka

If those names tell you one thing, it is the fact that this album is going to be grand. It is going to be opulent and, to some degree, egregious as far as cinematic elements go. A suspicion that is realised almost immediately with the dark sinisterness of album intro, Enter the Void. An apt title, as it does have the sense of wandering beauty, followed by a gradual descent into unknown murkiness.

While all of this might seem predictable, it doesn’t diminish the emphatic impact as ELEGY brings heavy riffs and drums, alongside silky-smooth vocals. It’s the first example of the album’s overall starry showcase of grandeur, but from a heavy metal perspective. Given even more weight with the following ENEMY, especially because of how dreamy the melody is and how dense some of the guitar riffs are. A big chorus is just the cherry on top here.

Though, it is fair to say that Illumishade aren’t exactly bringing anything fresh to the table here, and as the album goes on, that becomes more of a relevant issue. Not before In the Darkness brings a frenetic blast of rocking energy to get the blood pumping hard in veins and Cloudreader takes on a ballad-lite form. Both examples of how accessible and anthemic Illumishade’s sound can be, even if they come from different angles.

It’s with Here We Are that some of the cracks begin to show as aside from some cool sounding synths, there’s nothing of note here when compared to what came before. It just feels a bit flat.

Happily, there’s no bad taste in the mouth as CYCLONE pulls things back by being far more interesting, far more imaginative, and far more intense, in both melody and metal ways. The longer length of this track proving not to be a problem as it delivers on all fronts, but none more notable than the guitars.

The latter half of the album doesn’t shake up the formula one bit, with Illumishade doubling down on some of their more epic pop-infused elements with the vocal showcase that is Fairytale. Then hitting some more cinematic highs with the intermission that is The Horizon Awaits. The sense of emerging from the gloom and being free to go where you want, is strong.

So, it’s a bit of a shame to hear Illumishade deliver more wholly unmemorable efforts with HYMN and TWILY. All the individual elements are fine, this is such a talented group after all, but once again, things just fall flat. Evident by a very lifeless sounding chorus in the former, and uninspired melody in the latter. A bit of quality control may have been needed here, it seems, especially as there’s still a few more tracks to go.

Is it a downward trend to the end though? Not quite, as Riptide’s chunky guitar riffing and energised chorus is much more enjoyable. Then there is Hummingbird, one of the most melodramatic tracks of all, but one that nails this aspect, mainly because of the dreamy edge the vocals have. Finally, it’s Verliebt, and it features Coen Janssen, the keyboardist and one of the founding members of Epica, as a guest. Unfortunately, those hoping for a big ending will left wanting as this is a vocal/keyboard only closer. Sweet, pretty, and likable, but not the ’oomph’ needed.

A few missteps here and there, but overall, Another Side of You is an enjoyable romp through the melodious cinematic mind of Illumishade. Absolutely no-one can fault the talent on show here, but snip a few tracks out, and it would be a much more persuasive release.

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Illumishade – Another Side of You Track Listing:

1. Enter the Void
2. ELEGY
3. ENEMY
4. In the Darkness
5. Cloudreader
6. Here We Are
7. CYCLONE
8. Fairytale
9. The Horizon Awaits
10. HYMN
11. TWILY
12. Riptide
13. Hummingbird
14. Verliebt (feat. Coen Janssen)




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  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Illumishade - Another Side of You (Napalm Records)
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