Illuminati – The Core

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Reviewed: June 2013
Released: n/a, Self Released
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Seemingly from out of nowhere comes possibly the best progressive death metal album of the year. Well not entirely from out of nowhere, more specifically, Romania. The trio known as Illuminati have recently self released their debut album, THE CORE, and it’s a pretty phenomenal listen. Featuring an impressive list of guests contributing vocals to the album, THE CORE is divided into half of the album being fully fleshed out progressive shred, and the balance being various levels of interludes. But collectively, it makes for an excellent debut from an unsuspecting outfit.

Musically, Illuminati dwells within the realms of Obscura, Atheist, and Cynic; that special combination of outright aggression intertwined with mind bending jazz fusion. But each of the main tracks tends to suit the stylistic persona of their guest contributor. Opening track “Please Lose” features Pestilence’s Patrick Mameli, and sounds like an outtake from SPHERES, albeit much more technical and inspired. “Storms” features Nocturnus founder Mike Browning, and can I just say how good it is to hear Mr. Browning’s voice again? “Gulliver’s Extraordinary Journey” features Daniel Mongrain of Voivod/Martyr fame and has somewhat of a sci-fi slant to it, but “Sea of Consciousness” featuring Atheist’s Kelly Schaeffer on vocals and Tony Choy on bass is unquestionably the standout track on THE CORE. The combination of the Illuminati trio’s stunning musical foundation (and some gorgeous fretwork) with Schaeffer’s witch like vocals and Choy’s irrepressible slap bass makes for a prog fan’s wet dream. “The Core” features ex-Cynic guitarist/growler Tymon Kruidenier (who also mixed the album), and sounds like a homage to the FOCUS album, while “Domino Spine” features Gorguts mainman Luc Lemay on arguably the gnarliest and dirtiest (but no less complex) track on the album. In between each tune is a bridge track that acts as a musical palate cleanser. Sometimes it’s slick jazz riffing, sometimes it’s traditional Romanian strings and percussion, and sometimes it’s sci-fi electronica. But it blends seamlessly with the tracks on either side of it for a cohesive and engaging listening experience.

Save for a brief bio in the press kit and on their website, there’s very little info about Illuminati or how they pulled such a cast of A-list players in to participate on THE CORE. Whether the mystery is intentional or not is questionable, but it helps to add an additional layer of intrigue into the whole thing. Either way, THE CORE is an exceptional release and continues to impress upon repeated listens. If you’re a fan of any of the album’s musical participants, or if you just enjoy quality metal, do not miss THE CORE. Check out Illuminati’s Facebook page for more info and purchase links.


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Track Listing:
1. Please Lose (feat. Patrick Mameli)
2. In the Maze of a Myth
3. Storms (feat. Mike Browning)
4. Small Worlds Unifying
5. Gulliver\’s Extraordinary Journey (feat. Daniel Mongrain)
6. Thoughts Turn into Matter
7. Sea of Consciousness (feat. Kelly Schaeffer and Tony Choy)
8. A Strange Kind of Sensitivity
9. The Core (feat. Tymon Kruidenier)
10. Tumultuous, Weary, and Pale
11. Domino Spine (feat. Luc Lemay)
12. And Back to the Origin

Matei Tibacu-Blendea – Drums, Bass, Percussion, Vocals, other instruments
Andrei Popa – Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizers
Petre Iftimie – Guitars
Patrick Mameli – Vocals (track 1)
Mike Browning – Vocals (track 3)
Daniel Mongrain – Vocals (track 5)
Kelly Schaeffer – Vocals (track 7)
Tony Choy – Bass (track 7)
Tymon Kruidenier – Vocals (track 9)
Luc Lemay – Vocals (track 11)