Do you remember in the 90’s when everything in the post Nirvana world was labeled “alternative”? It could have an 80’s vibe – “alternative”. It could be jangly guitar rock – “alternative”. It could be post grunge metal – “alternative”. The debut album by IsRain would fit right into that cycle, if only because it is very hard to categorize. Nine Inch Nails type atmosphere? Check. Metal guitars bordering on thrash at times? Check. Orchestrated instrumental? Check. Clearly, this is an “alternative” record.

IsRain was formed by Alberto “Nails” and Nico – both having extensive backgrounds in European metal bands (Ashcorn and Ensoph, respectively). They wanted to create a new sound and quickly discovered that the chemistry they shared was nothing short of magical. The duo spent all of 2010 perfecting the songs, tinkering and collaborating. Once they put together a full band (including fellow Ashcorn alumni, Millo), the band devoted the last half of 2011 towards recording a masterful album. Sometimes the key to perfection is allowing mistakes to happen, and the recording of this album was no different. Musical experiments became part of the record or were scrapped, but the process led the band to unexpected places.

So how does the finished product hold up? Trees Never Sleep is an album that bears traces of a 90’s influence (think Nine Inch Nails or White Zombie) but has a forward thinking approach. There are songs that are very immediate as well as songs that take a few listens to show their beauty. An “alternative” hit for the year 2012.

Live in the memory…(a few highlights)

No Forgiveness begins with squealing guitars before a thrash metal sound takes over. It all leads up to the stunning chorus with its shout-along chant of the title. The music slows down for an atmospheric interlude before being enveloped by the noisy assault. Key lyrics:

Do you remember how we used to be?
Do you remember the days of innocence?
When the darkness was far away from us
we lived in the light, eternal spring
Do you remember how we used to be?
And our fragile dreams of glass?
Which hand has put the seed of despair
within us? Within us.

Open Your Door a slower vibe with this song – piano / synth flourishes throughout. Passionate vocals, with eerie effects at various times. The last verse of this song is simply stunning as the music becomes more aggressive and Nico sings his heart out. There is a positive message within the lyrics that is refreshing. Key lyrics:

now that your certainties seem to fall, now that you are really alone,
now that your pride prevents you from asking for help, asking for help
now that the burden is too heavy to carry alone, to carry alone
I say to you…open your door, open your door and let me in

Parasite – the band locks into a groove right from the outset, an industrial / metal feel to this song bringing to mind the great Killing Joke. The song vacillates between a full on assault and having the music fade away so we can focus on Nico’s vocals. Key lyrics:

your spell is finished
the game is over
I have no reason
to stay here
I have no reason
to forgive, forgive you
I only know that
It’s time to go!

Sonata for the Dead – after the nihilistic journey of the earlier 8 songs, this instrumental closer is a welcome change of pace. The music reminds me of the “Theme from Ghost World” track from the film Ghost World. Washes of piano, timely percussion giving it an epic feel. The soundtrack to an imaginary film. As Ian Curtis once said “praise to the glory of loved ones now gone”. A beautiful and perfect concluding track.

This album is available to listen to via the band’s Soundcloud site (linked at the bottom of this review). You can also buy the record via the band’s own bandcamp site. Go ahead and follow the band’s adventures via their Facebook page. I really love this record, and I think if you are inclined towards thoughtful and aggressive music you just may love it too.

Verdict: Amazingly Alternative

For Fans of: Faith No More, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, White Pulp


01. I Want To Leave You Something
02. No Forgiveness
03. Enemy
04. Open Your Door
05. Frozen Words
06. Parasite
07. I Don’t Wanna Be Here
08. Seasons
09. Sonata For The Dead


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