Chicago’s brutal metal outfit Immortal Bird process deeply rooted pain into immersive and even captivating music on their new full-length album Thrive On Neglect, which is available July 5 via 20 Buck Spin. The music pushes grinding death metal into occasionally broader than expected song structures, as the band incorporate progressive elements into a powerful hook for the listener on a sonic and emotional level. Across the board, this album delivers a bluntly enthralling experience.
Even as the captivating heavy music rages, the underlying emotional element is, of course, never lost — it’s even embedded pretty close to the surface in the title, and as Immortal Bird vocalist Rae Amitay shares, the lyrics dive deeper into this theme of a brutal separation you’d otherwise wish never even came close to happening. That’s not where the band end their journey though, instead embarking into something greater that even if not out from under the looming shadow of some of the sparking pain, represents a clear path forward all the same. “Overall, it offers very little closure but a lot of processing,” Amitay says of the new album. “It feels like… making painful things clear in order to — eventually — heal or release them.”
The band poured themselves into this undertaking, and the music sounds raw because the songs are, in fact, a raw reflection of their personal and artistic ambition. “While the lyrical content is pretty dark and coming from a place of pain,” Amitay explains, “The band is not so wholly driven by that sadness. I want to express my feelings but ultimately I want to write engaging music. So, the album’s lyrics and the overall tone comes from a place of anger and despair, but also from a collaborate place of creativity and a desire to further the band’s musical concepts and sound.”
That sound includes more progressive elements this time around than they’ve apparently worked with before. These elements serve a clear artistic purpose and further the main theme of processing brutality — but they definitely make a splash. “Avolition” off Thrive On Neglect hits an over seven minute mark and never feels like just “filler,” instead packed with energy like all the rest. While embarking on their decidedly own path, Amitay still shares a number of boundary crossing heavy bands she’s inspired by along these progressive lines, including Canadian black metal band Thatifaxath, New York rock band Moon Tooth, Denver doom metal band Dreadnought, Michigan grind band Cloud Rat, and Seattle progressive heavy band Helms Alee. “We experimented more with longer song forms, added some keys, Nate’s got a very short guitar solo… things like that,” Amitay shares of Immortal Bird’s newest effort, mentioning guitarist Nate Madden. “We tried to hold ourselves to a higher standard with our performances and I think we all feel very connected to the material.”
That connection allows interested listeners to latch on too. On Thrive On Neglect, Immortal Bird have held to a fascinating line between pouring themselves out through their music and crafting an engaging musical experience in the first place, truly feeling like they’re pushing themselves and the music they’re working with forward. As Amitay mentions, an ultimate end goal of catharsis, straight-up healing or something similar might be obscured by some fog, but the band proceed all the same.
“I hope it’s received well enough to keep us moving forward in terms of our writing and also the opportunities we’ll be able to pursue,” Amitay says of the band’s newest work. “We all want to tour a significant amount. That’s possible without an album getting a solid amount of praise and attention, but it sure wouldn’t hurt.” Their touring so far since their inception around early 2013 has often unfolded alongside similar extreme but boundary breaking metal acts like Pyrrhon and Withered, and they’ll surely have more shows coming soon. These shows get their substance in large part from the fans who are there, of whom Amitay shares: “I hope it’s clear we care a whole lot about what we do, and we think this album is the best material we’ve written so far.”
Photo via Andrew Rothmund
Listen to some of Thrive On Neglect below and make sure to stay tuned for the full-length.