Illuminaut is an independent, progressive alternative rock band out of Los Angeles, California. The band is a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Ben Taylor and lyricist and vocalist Blaze Powers. They officially formed in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown as a creative outlet in uncertain times. Guitars and bass were recorded at Bedrock LA in Echo Park, while vocals and drums were tracked at ES Audio Recording Studio in Burbank. All engineering and mixing were done by Chad Carlisle. The self-titled EP Illuminaut was mastered by Dave Collins, who has mastered for artists such as Soundgarden, Chevelle, and Alice In Chains. The band Illuminaut draws from a wide array of influences across the spectrums of rock, metal and beyond; from the progressive tendencies of artists like Tool and The Mars Volta, to the driving, jagged riffs of Queens of the Stone Age and Soundgarden. Additional musicians who contributed were Aaron Levin on saxophone (“Dead Messenger”) and Uriel Soto, Jr. on synthesizers.
“The Grey” starts things off with a smooth and groovy introduction, lots of splashing ride cymbal sounds, a mellow guitar and extra percussion. Then, haunting backing vocals along with some powerful power rock chords and intense drum rhythms fill the ears. Two of the biggest highlights, well ok maybe four, were the jagged guitar riffs, the melodic bass lines and did I mention all those chilling backing vocals? I already love what’s going on. Also, the brief interlude into a solo that featured a few nice twists and turns.
Stylistically, this is a heavy progressive metal tune with many great textures, beats and change ups – a fantastic opening track for a debut EP. I think after listening to this one, alternative metal rock lovers will be hooked. Track two is “Dead Messenger” and the approach is soft sounding at first, and then explosive. With fast and hard, jagged guitar riffs, deep tribal drums beats, and plenty of interesting arrangements and solo breaks (especially the saxophone and bass ones) – this is another great song that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Next up is “Native Alien” and the band doesn’t let up one bit. The beginning bass/drum pairing is flipping insane, and Blaze’s vocals are perhaps her most powerful and noticeable on this number. Style-wise, I thought this was the band’s best example of mixing both old and new alt-metal sounds – not to mention their most energetic and fast paced. Already, the fourth song in ends this short EP with “Two Wolves.” Just when you couldn’t think the band could play any faster, along comes this last track. This one has a lot of great twists and turns and guitar chord changes. Taylor’s work on the ride cymbal, let alone all those fluid drum fills he’s doing are other-worldly – the guitar solos were fantastic as well. A lot of power and sound going on here. Phew! What just happened? If progressive/hard rock metal is on the outs in the music industry or needs a comeback, Illuminaut will lead the way – this band blew my mind! And if they ever play live in the smallest regions of mid-west Minnesota, I’ll be the first in line.
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