But first, I have to admit, in my younger years, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated Haunted by Silhouettes. They would have been vocally aggressive for me. Even a year ago, I wouldn’t have appreciated the talent and skills in vocalist, Mathias Jamtli Rye. It wasn’t until I started watching The Charasmatic Voice break down the intricacies of metal voices that I started to fully appreciate heavier, harder, and harsher vocals. Understanding the dichotomy of clean and harsh vocals expanded my ears to a new world. It’s through that understanding that I found No Man Isle to be vocally perfect EP. (Read our interview with Mathias Jamtli Rye)
As we wrote earlier, No Man Isle was inspired by poet, John Donne and is a concept story written by Mathias that focuses on themes of solitary survival, family, independence and societal humanity. He said,
No Man Isle centers around a middle-aged divorced man that decides to cut all ties with the world, and to live on his family’s deserted island for the rest of his life. He travels to the island and a lot of mysterious things happen that seem to be connected to his uncle’s disappearance from the island 40 years earlier.
Thankfully, one doesn’t have to dig deep to find the themes or story. They all clearly shine through in the lyrics. The lyrics are precision sharp, painting imagery onto the mind that one cannot shake.
In regards to the song arrangements, Mathias said,
The songs are perhaps more melodic and to the point this time around with more distilled, focused details added to each song. There’s also a maritime retro vibe going on with the added synth arrangements that make the songs pop out more and sound a bit bigger, epic and unique.
Guitarist, Stian Hoel Fossen, further added,
We wanted to tune down from drop-C to drop-A to make the sound heavier. Per Kristian and I wrote a bunch of riffs and then the whole band took a trip to a cabin in the mountains of Norway to write 7 demo tracks for the EP. From those seven, five songs ended up on the EP.
Armed with knowledge above, we breakdown No Man Isle, track by track.
Departure – the album opens with this 26 second ambient track. This is the quiet before the storm and the quietest moment you’ll have for the next 15 and half minutes.
Flock – This song is an absolute punch to throat. There is nothing delicate or soft about this song. From the very moment it starts, the drums, guitars, and bass annihilate the air with wave after wave of heavy aural destruction and if the music left anything standing in your ears, then Mathias’ intense vocals that are teeming with annoyance and anger will obliterate what is left. My favourite lyrics are: “…The past is sighing while the future’s falling into uncertainty and great divide.” Sheer poetry my friends. Sheer poetry.
Icon – First, as a writer, I am so pissed off that I have never written anything as perfect as this lyric: “…A catalyst unknown to me, gave birth to your insanity.” Reading it and hearing it, we understand what Mathias is singing as we all know a person like this. The opening to this song is a beautiful brutality. You know from the moment it starts what you are going to get. Just like its predecessor, it continues an aural assault. If “Flock” was a punch to the throat, then “Icon” is a ninja kick to the face. There’s a moment during the chorus, where the heavy and aggression, give pause and let the listener, catch their breath and in that moment, Mathias’ vocals soften and reveals a soul trying to understand.
Selkie (featuring Björn Strid) – Here is the moment where listeners can take a deep breath. This song shows the amazing delicacy of the band. The piano/keys mix beautifully into the guitars and drums. The piano/keys are not over powered by the heavier instruments but held up to shine like a disco ball and the bass in this song is soul crushing. I love how the bass and piano/keys have a tête-à-tête while Björn sings the chorus. Speaking of Björn, his voice and Mathias’s voice were meant to be paired together. While their voices are contrasting, there is no conflict. Instead, they beautifully compliment each other, allowing each voice to showcase the talent of the other. It really shines through towards the end of the song.
No Man Isle – I’m a sucker for a harmony. A metal band that has harmonies? Sign me up please! The band had me at the opening harmonies. It’s just 14 words sung, and that’s all I needed to fall in love with this song, but it’s not the only reason I love this song. This song shows the vocal talent of Mathias. You get harsh vocals, but you also get clean vocals. And then you get his harsh vocals overlayed on his clean vocals with harmonies and damn, it’s just impactful and stunning to be honest. The song also showcases the talent of those playing the instruments. Just like hearing the juxtaposition of Mathias’ voice, listeners get to hear the heavy and softer side of guitarists Stian Hoel Fossen and Per Kristian Grimsland, bassist Ola Kjøren Nilsen, and drummer Håvard Bustad. At the 3 minute 20 minute mark, there is an absolute banger a guitar solo that leaves my metal loving heart breathless.
The No Man Isle EP is perfection.
FAVOURITE TRACK: “No Man Isle”
MUST LISTEN TRACK: Tie between “Icon” and “Selkie”
RATING OUT OF 5 ROCK HANDS: 5 🤘🤘🤘🤘🤘
Watch “Selkie” featuring Björn Strid
Pre-order or pre-save No Man Isle.