Ides of Gemini - Constantinople

Neurot Recordings
Produced by Ides of Gemini and Chris Rakestraw

On their debut EP The Disruption Writ, Ides of Gemini started out as an extremely sparse outfit - vocalist/bassist Sera Timms (who is also the frontwoman of Black Math Horseman), guitarist/backing vocalist Jason Bennett (who is a metal journalist by day and a musician by night, and equally capable at both roles), and a drum machine. On Constantinople, which is their first LP as well as their debut on Neurot Recordings, the band now includes drummer Kelly Johnston, who also adds backing vocals. However, while Ides is now technically a power trio - at least on paper - the usual trappings of being such are all but totally absent on this fascinatingly minimalistic album.

While many traditional power trios tend to try to fill every single nook and cranny with thick guitar tones, distortion, reverb, harsh vocals, pounding drums and whatever else they can find - almost as if they feel they have something to prove, since they are comprised of only three members - Ides instead choose to take a distinctly different approach. Bennett cranks out thoroughly convincing riffs while never outshining the rest of the cast, Johnston strikes the skins with gentle yet consistent twitches of wrist and calf, and Timms provides a competent bottom end which serves as no more than an effectively steady rhythmic baseline. If anything, the only voices that really shine above anything else here are just that - the vocals (more on that feature in a moment). The point is, this music truly breathes. There is space aplenty here... space to become truly lost in, as it turns out.

Rarely has so much intensity been conveyed by a metal act using their implements as sparingly as these three musicians do, but therein lies the great strength and appeal of Constantinople. The guitar riffs are compelling, but not relentless. The vocals are extremely convincing, but never harsh. The drums are effective, yet subtle. The bass is all but non-existent. All of this, and yet this album has the power to haunt without mercy. Only the best music can accomplish a feat such as this - and if this album were an elixir, then ounce-for-ounce, it may well be one of the most potent ever concocted.

Now, about those vocals.

Aside from the extreme strength of the music as a whole, the vocals on this album are perhaps its single most alluring feature. Those familiar with Black Math Horseman know that Sera Timms is a tremendously talented vocalist, capable of carrying an entire composition on her extremely compact shoulders. However, even those who know full well what she can do may be surprised to hear her work on this album. Holy cow. Timms alone delivers ridiculously great stuff here, capable of changing pitch, volume and tone on a dime, but when Johnston's haunting harmonies are added to the mix, the result is devastatingly irresistible. Even Bennett joins in the fun here and there, and his vocals are also quite effective in their place. However, it is the insidiously disarming lullabies of Timms - joined by the enthralling accompaniments of Johnston - which make the songs on this album truly soar. Every track features their intoxicating teamwork - much to the listener's delight - and in many cases, the songs are truly driven by this deceptively powerful force.

In short, this album is simply outstanding not because of its outward show of force, but because of its surreptitious ability to quietly stalk the listener, extending its tentacles into the mind, injecting its sweet venom, and paralyzing its willing victim into an utterly helpless state. In other words, even though this album will most likely destroy you, you'll be back for more before you know it.

“ the power to haunt without mercy ”

Tracklist: The Vessel & The Stake / Starless Midnight / Slain in Spirit / Resurrectionists / One To Oneness / Reaping Golden / Austrian Windows / Martyrium / Old Believer

Photo(s): Steven Duncan

Written by Chris Poling
More: 2012, Albums, Avant-garde, Doom Metal,

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