CD REVIEW iLL

Band : iLL
Album title : Gotten Gains
Label : Glassville Records
Distributor : /
Release date : 02/03/2012
Release : CD

Ryan Waters (guitar, vocals – also a touring member of the legendary UK Soul act Sade since 2000), Damion Goodpaster (synth, piano, vocals) and Marion Patton (drums), the musicians of iLL, originally started playing together in 2005 as part of a well-established Atlanta, Georgia based band, which got signed to major label Universal Records in 2007. However, the trio found out that the deal was creatively restrictive, and eventually they separated themselves from the rest in Spring 2009.

They immediately started writing the songs which were to establish iLL (do not mistake with Japan's Ill, which is an experimental Pop/ Rock/ Electronics solo project of former Supercar singer Koji Nakamura, also known as Nakoko // Ill was a Hardcore Punk act from Sydney, Australia, which today goes under the monicker of Ill Brigade // Ill is also a French underground rapper, formerly of X-Men // eventually, there's also a Nu-Metal act from Sweden going under the name Ill) and released their debut independent album Down In Deep, later that same summer. From their experiences in the two years prior (which were spent touring), the band started booking shows up and down the eastern United States, and as the live performances progressed, it became clear that the band needed to record new material, in order to capture the sound and changed attitude of iLL in those live conditions. The writing sessions started in the Spring of 2010, but in that same period Waters was called upon to rejoin the live band of Sade in order to tour in promotion of their new album. But, while he was happy to be part of that band again, he also desperately wanted to continue creating his own thing in iLL. So iLL continued to write and record during breaks in Sade's touring schedule, first releasing a self-titled EP later in 2010. This 10-track full-length album eventually got finished in the Summer of 2011, and put to the attention of Dutch label Glassville Records through the intermediate of friends in favourite Atlanta band Sun Domingo [whom are also on the label, if you hadn't guessed that yet – other acts also on the band include A Liquid Landscape (review of their album Nightingale Express probably posted at same time as this), Pittsburgh based American act Mandrake Project, Poland's Riverside, and the mighty Paatos from Stockholm, Sweden].

The band itself describes its music as “Big Blues riffs done with a Punk attitude and very much rooted in Soul..to us, the lines of classification between Ray Charles and Black Sabbath are very blurry”. In the media, iLL recordings have previously been compared to the likes of Soundgarden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Kings X and Stone Temple Pilots...while one reviewer described a show of theirs as “...a stripped down Hendrix-inspired Blues guitar power trio with the sonic ambition of Nine Inch Nails...”! The truth lays somewhere in the middle, or to the extremes, depending on which song you're listening to...because they can vary in intensities, you know, a song like “Christine” (which has a mute opening and ending for some reason I cannot understand) being the perfect example of both the calmest side of the band in the first and ending part of the track, and of its more aggressive Heavy Rock geared tendencies in the passage in between. Closing the album, is the band's heavier version of Sade's “Pearls”. At another moment (more specifically in second track “A”, the high-pitched dual vocals give the song a kind of Glam Metal flavouring in between passages which can be dubbed Heavy Stoner Rock!

To get an idea of how iLL actually sounds, just surf on over to (www.) myspace.com/illrocks, where you'll find no less than 8 songs off the 10-track album! For two videos, check the video section at (www.) illrocks.com (automatically switches to (www.) illillill.com, but that's nothing to worry about). For those preferring to check bands out in live conditions, check the dates posted on the band's own site, for they are coming over to Europe in early May (playing Verviers' Spirit Of 66 on the 10th).

82/100

Tony.