Release date: 8 September 2023 Label: Helter Skelter Productions
Squealing through the sludge straight out of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur-based IBLISS make old school stoner doom fresh and new. Taking cues from Electric Wizard and Sleep, the trio has built up a sleazy and positively evil sound. Echoing vocals, a crunchy bass, fuzzy guitars, and a solid beat from the drums is the foundation they work from. With all that combined, it makes for a dark and compelling aura that verges on the occult more than once. Like many recent bands, IBLISS started under their “pandoomic” lockdown in 2020 and immediately set to work. Their first offering, Demonic, Her, is jam-packed with that slow-moving malicious sound and is well worth a listen. Three years later, they have returned with their sophomore release, Bintang Fajar.
Made in Hell squeals and shrieks as it opens the album, a mysterious and wavering guitar riff slithering through. The beat is quick to pick itself up, becoming a twisting and filthy track to headbang to. The titular Bintang Fajar, previously released as a single, hits just as hard as the previous, with haunting vocals that seem to beckon the listener closer. The rhythmic riffs here are catchy and fun, making you wish the surprisingly brief five minutes was a bit longer.
Even shorter but with a down-turned beat, Sold Your Soul to the Devil is a bluesy ballad with a focus on the bass. The vocals and guitar work together to harmonize beautifully before bursting out in a flurry of passion in the outro. Flower ov Evil is another previous single, this time changed up for the album release with a new intro. This track meanders, repeating the same fuzzy riffs, sometimes mixed up a little, but never really reaching a solid conclusion. At seven minutes and without vocals, it makes for a great in-between to take a “smoke” break and just listen.
Living Like a Sinner opens with a dark bass beat that is quickly joined by harmonizing guitar and drums. This track starts with a heavy and sinister sound, then shifts to fun and almost punky. Faiz goes crazy on the drums here, Fo and Wan barely keeping up on bass and guitars, respectively. The final track, Killing Spree, is a six-minute jam session followed by 90 seconds of silence and three minutes of a simple dark riff. The opening rolls along from progression to progression super smoothly while the closing riffs gently wander along in otherwise silence. Barely feeling like all that time has passed, it will certainly leave the listener with a craving for more.
A Final Word
Bintang Fajar is a fantastic album top to bottom and definitely worth checking out. IBLISS have successfully created a hard and heavy sound that is hard to believe to come from just three people. They blend together sludge and stoner doom in a crunchy and almost hypnotic way that begs for a listen. On top of that, they hint at how diverse they can get with the distinct bluesy Sold Your Soul to the Devil and the punk-like Living Like a Sinner. If this group ever decides to branch out, they could easily take the world by storm.
- Wan (he/him) – Vocals, Guitars
- Fo (he/him) – Vocals, Bass
- Faiz (he/him) – Drums
- Maz Satwo – Keys on Sold Your Soul to the Devil and Flower ov Evil
- Made in Hell
- Bintang Fajar
- Sold Your Soul to the Devil
- Flower ov Evil
- Living Like a Sinner
- Killing Spree