Although Marillion’s Steve Hogarth needs no introduction to Prog readers, Sweden’s Isildurs Bane may be less well known.
Formed in the mid-70s and with numerous line-up changes over the decades across multiple releases, they’re led by keyboardist and principal composer, Mats Johansson. In the last 10 years they’ve focused primarily on an annual IB Expo concert where invited musicians, such as Hogarth, collaborate with the group. The six pieces here were premiered at 2016’s event and the 14-piece chamber rock ensemble provides an abundance of orchestral detail to lyrics Hogarth composed largely while on the road with Marillion. Lightning-fast rivulets of guitar and keyboards course between razor-sharp arrangements that bring both grace and force to H’s up-close and near-breathless tales of addiction, love, loss and metaphysics. When he’s not striking a bargain with God during Diamonds And Amnesia’s meditative hymnal, he’s assuming his own megalomanic omnipotence declaiming ‘Bring the Earth to me now!’ during the titanic clashes of Incandescent. Emotional catharsis and resolution comes through the touching yet troubled ballad, Peripheral Vision, new material boding well for IB’s international return.