Infant Island unleash wonderous fury as they re-emerge a beautiful screamo kaiju on third album Obsidian Wreath.

Release date: January 12, 2024 | Secret Voice | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

In 1961’s Mothra, the title kaiju leaves Infant Island and swims to shore a powerful larval form to save two protectors of the island from capitalist opportunists. While there, she forms a cocoon before emerging a large and beautiful moth deity. Immensely powerful, causing devastation with the flap of her wings and yet a gorgeous sight while doing so. A benevolent being looking to save their land, and the environment in general. On Obsidian Wreath, Infant Island feel like they’ve left their cocoon to reveal their final form. There is power, beauty, and yet you can trace everything back to their previous sounds. They have the same ideals and the same goals and yet they’ve managed to grow each part of their sound and style to produce a brilliant third album.

‘Fury in mourning’ is how Infant Island describe this new album and, first things first, this thing is HEAVY. They’ve not left a shred of aggression on the cutting room floor when putting together Obsidian Wreath, creating comfortably their most brutal document of screamo yet. While 2020’s Beneath was a more restrained and balanced offering, with the more regular dynamic shifts and lulls, what we have here is an untethered ball of fury. Blending a range of metal and hardcore influenced into their already well-versed screamo arsenal, Infant Island have burst through the door of 2024 with an angry statement.

Across the first half of the album there is seemingly one attack after another, even the atmospheric third track “Found Hand” finds throat shedding shouts over an ambient synth interlude. Around that we find chaotic distortion, tremolo picking and blast beats with a range of screams traded in each track. While this could be expected from the recognised emoviolence band, the more varied past of Infant Island leaves me shock but no less enthralled. There are mathcore riffs and panic chords, there are hardcore breakdowns and nods to black metal throughout. It’s a melting pot of influences and ideas that result in a blunt instrument approach to screamo that’s somewhat new to Infant Island, but at the same time the band feels comfortable and is doing things they’ve always either done or at least hinted at.

Much of “Veil” is slower and builds gradually, hinting at a more expansive second half to the album, utilising that unbridled aggression alongside the beauty in their work, reminiscent of contemporaries like Respire. “Amaranthine” begins side B with a finger-picked acoustic intro backed by solemn strings as we have a look into the thoughtful side of Infant Island. Truthfully, I would have expected this to begin the album, maybe bookending the album with a similar outro. Of course, it still thrillingly bursts into life with double bass and heavy distortion beneath the screams but there’s a familiarity in this balance. In being dealt an immediate blow to the head, I was a little taken aback and with the amount of dynamic twists and turns the second half comes with that feeling of wonder never drifts away.

Many of the tracks on this back half have more familiar calling cards of the genre with the picked chords, refrains and mid-paced mathy rhythms underneath emotional vocals which go from scream to harsh talking in an instant. Infant Island never lose the anger, it’s merely brewing alongside the other emotions they let reach the surface. About the album they discuss a range of these and the topics that inspire them, whether it’s the grief of the pandemic or the general hopelessness in a world of climate crisis and capitalist exploitation. It’s a complex set of circumstances surrounding us all, and it tells. There are ebbs and flows, both musically and emotionally on Obsidian Wreath that are truly felt throughout.

That fury in mourning is my overwhelming feeling, but it is balanced as songs like “With Shadow” and “Unrelenting” trade blows with that fury meeting moments of reflection. One of these most poignant moments come on the vivid “Kindling”, with a guest appearance from Greet Death’s Logan Geval. The vocals feel almost far away in the mix, as if we can’t be close enough to those we hear, as the softer ambience as the song rumbles on we seem no closer to that voice. That collaboration is another notable part of the album, they wanted to invite the listener into a scene with this song with Greet Death, and a range of contributions from gif from god., Undeath, King Yosef, For Your Health, Senza, Malevich, and more. These are some of the loudest and exciting voices in not just screamo, but underground alternative music today and we feel that breadth of collaboration with that wide range of sounds and emotions. It feels important too; while we feel far away from the pandemic, this album and our world now feels moulded by it and that feeling of separation can continue to linger.

The mammoth final song “Vestygian” is a fitting crescendo to an album of various feelings of down. A lush tapestry of emotions are woven through the familiar screaming vocals, harsh rhythms with a typically beautiful melody laid over the top to bring a gorgeousness in the chaos. Like all of the best screamo, it is both devastating and wonderful at once, trading the most visceral emotions for the emptiness that can follow.

When I think of the best screamo of recent years, I think back to 2020’s Beneath. When I think of what makes screamo so thrilling, it’s that ability to bring together pure chaos and any outpouring of emotion into something that feels wonderous at the same time. Across Obsidian Wreath, Infant Island have produced another album which does just that. While somewhat an album of surprises, it’s an album that is thrilling and emotional in every way the genre needs to be.



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