Published on January 12th, 2016 | by Luke Frizon


Isolate / Hibinokoto


Have you ever walked past a power station at night, with only your footsteps and the ominous buzz of lethally charged machinery keeping you company in the pitch-black surrounds? Do you recall that vague sense of unease made more acute by the realisation that you’re completely, utterly alone?

That’s how ISOLATE’sヒビノコト [Hibinokoto] opens. Menacing drone that evokes visions of abandoned industrial zones better passed with a swift walking pace.

A minute later, the calm shatters and Hibinokoto shows its true harmful intent. カイラン [Kairan] explodes into a maelstrom of cold, tremolo-picked guitar harmonies that sweep across the listener in waves, immediately followed by a fusillade of blast-beats and the agonised squall of vocalist Ando punctuating the gloom with howls of desperation and bitterness.

There’s constant buildups, climaxes, and segues throughout every song

The seamless triptych of カイラン [Kairan], 閉ざされた中で [Tozasareta Nakade], and 航路の先 [Kouro No Saki] is a sonic avalanche. The sequence leaves you breathless. It’s absolutely devastating.

While brief interludes such as安堵の時 [Ando No Toki] or 空白の至福 [Kuuhaku No Shifuku] offer you a momentary respite, meandering through gently melancholic chords, it’s not long before the heavy-handed fury of [Shoku] and its ilk swing into action and wipe away any shelter offered from the storm.

The thing about Hibinokoto is that it’s brutal, but not in the traditional sense. You get a constant feeling of unfolding with this album. The further and the more intensely you listen, the more distant elements will offer themselves to you, equally dissonant and beautiful.

The way that the same riff progresses from claustrophobic to desolate—simply via the drums transitioning from tribal to black to D-beat, the vile harmonies hidden in the crustiest stanzas, Ando’s strangled voice all at once commanding and despairing.

Everything feels real, never contrived. One would think that such a barrage of blackened violent riffs and unendingly horrific lyrical delivery would exhaust the listener beyond interest, but there’s so much happening in the way of dynamics that you’re constantly drawn back in. There’s constant buildups, climaxes, and segues throughout every song that make each track multi-faceted and satisfactorily progressive. No phrase is left inconclusive or is shoehorned in to satisfy genre requirements.

It’s the perfect juxtaposition of ambient melodies soaring over horrific landscapes

By the time終末 [Syuumatsu] hammers its epitaph into your skull and drifts away into silence, you’re left with a sense of disquieting closure. Like you’ve unlocked a room you shouldn’t have, released something noxious into the world and miraculously managed to shove it back into its prison.

In a word, ISOLATE’s Hibinokoto is dire. It’s the dread of an unopened letter from the police, the nausea that launches into your throat with an imminent car crash, the feeling of falling in your nightmares. It’s the perfect juxtaposition of ambient melodies soaring over horrific landscapes of torment and aural destruction.

However, the standout element that makes Hibinokoto a must-listen and already one of my favourites is the sensation that it brings overall. You don’t just listen to Hibinokoto on a drive to the shops. This album cascades upon you.

Hibinokoto is 15 tracks of the worst things in your life and it’s ready for you to open the floodgates.

FFO: Envy, Funeral Diner, Bethlehem, Celeste, Ampere, any band on Throatruiner, late Converge

Hibinokoto is out on Keep and Walk Records / DIW Records. International shipping available via CDJapan. Streaming on Spotify. Band website is here

Luke Frizon is vocalist for the Australian hardcore band Jack the Stripper. Check out their music here on bandcamp.

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