Eisenwald set October 23rd as the release date for a special EP from Iskandr, Gelderse Poort, on 12” vinyl format (including CD listening copy).
Iskandr began its quest into the hinterlands of the imagination and subconscious with the debut album Heilig land in 2016, initially released on extremely limited-edition cassette but then making its way onto other formats as time went on. Despite Heilig land being the band’s first recording, Iskandr possessed no small amount of experience: mainman O hailed from (and still plays guitar in) Turia, among others. While no doubt bearing his sterling standards of quality, Iskandr soon took on an immediately more epic quality compared to Turia and served as another crucial piece to the Netherlands’ unceasingly vibrant black metal scene of today.
The Zon EP followed not longer after Iskandr‘s debut album, but it was 2018 when the band released its breakout record, Euprosopon, courtesy of Eisenwald for the CD and vinyl versions (the tape was released by the band’s own Haeresis Noviomagi label, who will also release a luxurious tape edition of Gelderse Poort). Widescreen and grand as it comes, totaling four tracks in exactly 44 minutes and 44 seconds, Euprosopon displayed boundless vision and a vibrancy to black metal’s core ethos without categorically being shackled to them. And while not strictly “positive” in tone and texture, here did Iskandr portray a uniquely progressive aspect that allowed fuller freedom for the listener to roam.
And Iskandr continues to roam, wider and wistfully, with the epic new EP Gelderse Poort. Comprising two tracks for a total of 24 minutes, Gelderse Poort is a thematically unified release, offering yet more depth to the already-deep Iskandr aesthetic. The EP’s title track was recorded during the Euprosopon sessions and deal with O’s home region and both the spiritual connection and distance to one’s place of origin. The “Gelderse Poort” is a literal name for the region where the Rhine enters the Netherlands from Germany, since it is on this border that the river cuts a path through two elevated areas and, as such, resembles a sort of “gate” into the Netherlands. As O explains, “I take this ‘gate’ as a more symbolic entity, a metaphorical entryway into or exit from one’s home – that moment whenever you feel like ‘Ah, I’m back again!’ or the other way around, ‘Damn, I feel very far removed from home right now.'” Fittingly, the title track spans a wealth of sonic terrain, from spacious ‘n’ pastoral to the searingly violent, but all with Iskandr‘s characteristically deft and dynamic touch.
“Het Graf,” the second track, features a spoken rendition of a part of the poem “het Graf” (English: “The Grave”) by Dutch writer Rhijnvis Feith, spoken by O’s father. Even moodier than Gelderse Poort’s title track, dipping into eerily quiet passages brimming with beauty and tension alike, the song fittingly deals with death, the finitude of life, and youth vs. old age. “It was very significant to have my dad on the record since all Iskandr material is pretty personal in nature,” O enthuses, “and having him recite a poem dealing with these existential themes is a very meaningful addition to my discography, I feel.”
Meaningful, and essential: Iskandr‘s discography may be sparse still, but the band’s vision continues to be breathtaking. Set sail for splendor and wonder with Gelderse Poort!
Cover and tracklisting are as follows:
Tracklisting for Iskandr’s Gelderse Poort
1. Gelderse Poort [11:59]
2. Het Graf [11:54]