Though sound artists Armin Steiner and Nik Hummer were the founders of Metalycée back in 2003, the current incarnation of the band finds that duo taking a backseat to newer members. It Is Not, the group’s latest effort, features plenty of vocalist Melita Jurisic, drummer Bernhard Breuer, and bassist Matija Schellander, who each joined the Metalycée ranks in 2007. Each contribute heavily to the record, creating, along with Steiner and Hummer, a deliberate and forceful sound, reliant on big beats and a crisp, stark production. Yet, for all its heavy instrumental impact, it’s vocalist Jurisic who is unquestionably the album’s focus.
Jurisic, who also works as an actress on the screen and stage, lords over It Is Not with an ominous swagger. Her deep voice intones dark lyrics in a fashion more spoken than sung, with an exaggerated gravity birthed by her often emotionless delivery. Her vocal performance is often as relentless as Breuer’s drumming, and can be off-puttingly cartoonish. Her stilted, spitting delivery on the disc’s title track is the most obvious suspect, and her topical focus on nihilism, vitriol, and darkness feels familiar at the disc’s beginning, and rather tired and monotonous by its end. She isn’t without the skill to inspire evocative imagery, or turn a nicely crafted poetic phrase, but her habit of twisting the lines of well-known songs and nursery rhymes, and attempted thrusts of shocking language can be a bit much, even with It Is Not’s relatively short duration.
The album isn’t all Jurisic, of course. Her four band mates, however obscured, provide a foil for Jurisic’s sometimes deadpan delivery. Steiner and Hummer’s rhythms are clad in effects and filters as often as they are presented unmolested, meaning that at times Steiner and Hummer’s contribution isn’t in what they’re playing, but how they’re playing with what’s already been played. The synthesizer and tratonium are at times industrial and grating; not often the most palpable ingredients of the music, they play an important, if sometimes subtle role in the overall tone.
But It Is Not isn’t principally an album of subtlety. Led by Jurisic’s heavy-handed vocals, the album does little bobbing and weaving, instead opting to pummel the listener, full steam ahead, for the majority of its 35 minutes.