Those of you with a keen ear to the underground Metal scene will doubtless already be familiar with Metallic Hardcore outfit Ithaca. Whilst it has been several years in its genesis, The Language Of Injury (Holy Roar) is the band’s full-length debut and, if the cliché that good things come to those who wait still has any relevance and cache at the start of 2019, then it most assuredly can be used here to welcome this record of brutal, uncompromising beauty.
The Language Of Injury (a wonderfully evocative album title) is a dizzying and dynamic album, shot through with heavy Metallic Hardcore, Progressive Metal-tinged time shifts, an insightful ear for off-kilter melodies, discordant guitar riffing and a vocal performance courtesy of Djamila Azzouz that is nothing short of astonishing, effortlessly leaping from gut-wrenching, heartfelt screaming through to gentle, ethereal harmonies without skipping a (broken) heartbeat.
This is a quintet with an agenda: the band’s own diversity, identity politics, and sexuality undoubtedly acting as catalysts for a record where the personal can become political and vice versa. These are not the politics of the student union, though. It is much more about making politics actionable and building communities that are diverse and inclusive.
Thematically, much of the record centres around communication and, notably, the breakdown of a personal relationship for Azzouz (she provides the lyrical content). Without wishing to intrude on private grief, the songs here are often emotionally raw and personal, painful and reflective. They are not, however, self-pitying or morose.
Much of the power and impact of this album rests on the band’s ability to combine the brutal and the beautiful. The crushing heft of the album’s title track; the discordant riffing on ‘Impulse Crush’; the glorious chaos of ‘Gilt’: across the whole record there is a singularity of purpose, underpinned by a dynamic and collective application that is resolute and chest-thumpingly admirable. They could, to coin a phrase, level a city.
The Language Of Injury is another notable notch in the increasingly impressive roster of Holy Roar Records. There are echoes of the relentlessness of Code Orange; the white-hot rage of a Svalbard or the sheer intensity of a Poison The Well, but this is no cut-and-paste facsimile. On the contrary, Ithaca have fashioned their own unique space and inhabit it with relish and gusto. The Language Of Injury is a record to genuinely root for, and Ithaca is a band whose art and cause you can champion. This is an exhilarating and life-affirming ride.
8 / 10