Iamí- “Luz e Sombra”

Iamí- Luz e Sombra

In black metal, the message is often an integral part of the musical experience. Whether it’s reverence towards nature, anti-religious rage, or the desire for complete isolation, many black metal acts make a point to put their lyrical content out as a key part of their appeal. In examining the music of Iamí, the lyrical nature seems rather direct yet the potential source of inspiration is not entirely revealed, allowing the listener to form their own connection. To me, the lyrics pair with the ghostly fungus of the album cover to inspire a feeling of smallness and the importance of focus. Another clear angle here is the possibility that this is the byproduct of a psilocybin-induced experience. Musically, it’s somewhere between the two. Reflection and deep thought are the common themes Iamí shares regardless of intent, and Luz e Sombra delivers them in a truly unique fashion, to varying effect.

On Luz e Sombra, Iamí conveys itself in two distinctly different fashions, each of which may have its fans or detractors. There is Iamí the lurching, dismal black metal force, slowly walking across an earth razed by humanity’s recklessness and pondering ways this could have been avoided. This is the Iamí that seems to draw the most attention to itself. With enjoyable leads and a dreary pace that cultivates a mournful sensibility, it’s pretty exceptional, but it needs to be mentioned that the vocals are often far too high in the mix, causing a clashing of sorts. Because of this, there are moments where the subtlety that the artist has worked to create is almost entirely lost on the listener. While this is unfortunate, to me it doesn’t detract from the skill or passion conveyed, although there are occasions where the vocal vomit could be reigned in to allow the music more breathing room.

The other face of Iamí is one that (judging by other reviews) may not be for everybody, although I’ll admit it’s exactly what sold me on this release. Approximately half of Luz e Sombra is comprised of the raw, yet delicately balanced black metal, while the other tracks are pure throwback dungeon synth of the highest order. As a huge fan of the early works of Mortiis, this hits a sweet spot for me, where the magic in every corner of the earth is illuminated and gentle tones massage the mind. The two tracks here tend towards a hypnotic sense of repetition, which allows for immersion and reflection. It’s worth noting that the album isn’t quite cut into halves, as the two lengthy synth tracks here are interrupted by the album’s final black metal track, the impressive “Cura e Magia.” This break in consciousness actually suits the album’s flow nicely and is a nice touch here.

As a whole, this album works for me. I can get past the minor issues in vocal production, especially since the rest of the package is so appealing. Dungeon synth may not be for everybody, but the four offerings of black metal are consistent and pummeling enough to warrant at least an exploratory listen. For those of us who enjoy dungeon synth, so much the better, as nearly thirty minutes of this album are spent in quiet focus. Whether psychedelic journey or personal reflection is your aim, Luz e Sombra should hit the mark quite nicely.