Review: ILLUMISHADE – ‘Another Side of You’

Fronted by vocalist Fabienne Erni and guitarist Jonas Wolf (both of Eluveitie) ILLUMISHADE is the perfect example of how what might have started as a short-term project can grow legs and outlive the reason why it was started in the first place.

ILLUMISHADE was formed in 2019 when the ball of positive energy, Fabienne Erni, studied music in Zurich. For her master’s degree, she had to come up with a music project, and since Jonas Wolf was teaching at the same school (as well as sharing a tour bus with Fabienne) it made sense to make it a collaborative effort. Yannick Urbanczik (bass) and Marc Friedrich (drums) studied alongside Fabienne and the line-up was completed by the arrival of Mirjam Skal (orchestration/synths) who was studying musical composition.

The self-released crowd-funded debut album ‘ECLYPTIC: Wake of Shadows’ landed in 2020 to great acclaim from fans and critics alike and Napalm Records sat up and took notice for now ILLUMISHADE find themselves as part of the illustrious Napalm family, and the sophomore album ‘Another Side of You’ arrives with all the might of the Austrian label behind it.

The band’s name highlights the contrast between light and darkness that ILLUMISHADE creates, the contrast between quiet and heavy songs, speaking to DGM in 2020, Fabienne had this to say:

“…it’s all about the contrasts. We have really big cheesy ballads, but also some heavier songs, and I think that it represents both Jonas and myself really well. The cheesier the better! Also Jonas, he has a very cheesy side! A heavy side as well and you can hear that, he writes the riffs. So there is a contrast there…”

Wolf’s explosive Djent-fuelled riffage (‘ELEGY’, ‘CYCLONE’, and ‘Hummingbird’  being prime examples) and the impressive work from the backbone of the band (Urbanczik, and Friedrich) bring some weight to the party; coupled with the lavish arrangements from Skal and Erni’s stunning vocals, the result is staggering. A breath of fresh air. Add into the mix the fact that Fabienne is a huge fan of fantasy, musicals, and Disney, ‘Another Side of You’ is proof that two seemingly polar opposite worlds can exist in the same space without alienating each other. And in the case of ‘Here We Are,’ they can exist at the same time. Thick down-tuned guitar, with crushing bass licks, powerful drums, and dreamy, hopeful vocals, anyone? – think Meshuggah or even Periphery covering Disney’s ‘A Whole New World’ and you are on the right track – whereas ‘In the Darkness’ adds a soupçon of Dragonforce into the Disney-meets-Anime cauldron with a chorus that screams “Let it go!!”

Despite coming in at almost one hour’s worth of music, ‘Another Side of You’ is refreshingly fat-free. Wolf’s playing throughout is a joy to behold; even on softer moments such as the utterly gorgeous ‘Cloudreader’ his playing is stunning – on this occasion, it’s a short burst of fretboard fireworks around the one-minute mark that particularly stands out along with a few moments later on that spark memories of hearing Boston’s Tom Scholz replicating a rocket launching.

Fans of Erni’s YouTube channel will enjoy the Disney-esque balladry of ‘Fairytale’ which hits the mark without going down a saccharine-fuelled path, likewise, in other hands ‘HYMN’ might have fallen into the stereotypical power-ballad category but there are enough progressive flourishes and guitar licks (the last few moments will cause sporadic and uncontrollable head-bobbing) to ensure that never happens. The cinematic qualities of the latter are especially difficult to ignore and somewhere there is a movie, or a video game, missing this one from its soundtrack. The standout moment on the album might just be the epic and haunting ‘Hummingbird’ which gets better with each listen, or ‘TWILY’ which ticks so many different boxes that it is impossible to count. In some parallel universe, ILLUMISHADE have handed ‘TWILY’ (“…the way I love you…”) over to Lana Del Rey and it’s become a Grammy-winning song, and in doing so ILLUMISHADE now own Switzerland.

‘Another Side of You’ is further proof if needed that lightning does indeed strike in the same place twice. File under “Essential listening” and expect to see the album feature heavily in end-of-year top-10 polls.

Review – Dave

Photo credits – Victoria Wonka

ILLUMISHADE Live 2024

NORTH AMERICA TOUR
supporting Korpliklaani & Visions of Atlantis
04.08.24 US – Reading, PA
04.09.24 US – New York City, NY
04.10.24 US – Boston, MA
04.11.24 CA – Montreal, QC
04.12.24 CA – Ottawa, ON
04.13.24 CA – Toronto, ON
04.14.24 US – Pontiac, MI
04.15.24 US – Milwaukee, WI
04.17.24 US – Minneapolis, MN
04.18.24 CA – Winnipeg, MB
04.19.24 CA – Regina, SK
04.20.24 CA – Edmonton, AB
04.21.24 CA – Calgary, AB
04.23.24 CA – Vancouver, BC
04.24.24 US – Seattle, WA
04.25.24 US – Portland, OR
04.26.24 US – San Francisco, CA
04.27.24 US – Los Angeles, CA
04.28.24 US – San Diego, CA
04.29.24 US – Phoenix, AZ
05.01.24 US – Denver, CO
05.02.24 US – Lincoln, NE
05.03.24 US – Joliet, IL
05.04.24 US – Pittsburgh, PA
05.05.24 US – Baltimore, MD

EUROPE TOUR
as Special Guest for Visions of Atlantis
19.09.24 AT – Vienna / Szene
20.09.24 HU – Budapest / Barba Negra
24.09.24 PL – Warsaw / Hydrozagadka
25.09.24 DE – Berlin / Frannz
26.09.24 DE – Hamburg / Markthalle
27.09.24 DE – Leipzig / Hellraiser
28.09.24 DE – Essen / Turock
29.09.24 DE – Frankfurt / Das Bett
01.10.24 NL – Haarlem / Patronaat
02.10.24 NL – Tilburg / O13
03.10.24 BE – Kortrijk / DVG Club
04.10.24 UK – London / The Underworld
05.10.24 UK – Manchester / Rebellion
07.10.24 UK – Bristol / Exchange
09.10.24 FR – Lyon / La Rayonne
10.10.24 FR – Toulouse / Metronum
11.10.24 ES – Barcelona / Sala Boveda
12.10.24 ES – Madrid / Sala Revi Live
13.10.24 PT – Lisbon / RCA Club
14.10.24 ES – Vitoria / Urban Rock Concept
15.10.24 FR – Paris / Petit Bain
16.10.24 DE – Munich / Backstage Halle
17.10.24 CH – Pratteln / Z7
18.10.24 CH – Wil / Gare de Lion
19.10.24 IT – Milan / Legend Club
21.10.24 DE – Nürnberg / Hirsch
22.10.24 DE – Cham /L.A.
23.10.24 DE – Stuttgart / Im Wizemann
24.10.24 AT – Wörgl / Komma
25.10.24 IT – Treviso / New Age
26.10.24 AT – Graz / PPC

Festivals
31.05.24 CZ – Pilsen / Metalfest Open Air
13.06.24 ES – Zamora / Z! Live Rock Fest
14.06.24 PT – São Pedro Do Sul / Belavista Open Air

ILLUMISHADE online:
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WebsiteNapalm Records

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