Review Summary: Beautifully crafted, unique black metal without overuse of tired techniques from the genre.
Inquisition- Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient
A true appreciation of black metal relies on the immersion in a totally alternate, surreal atmosphere. Atmospheric black metal is a very saturated subgenre of black metal to the point of exhaustion and yawning repetition of the same techniques. Bands typically rely on high distortion, and the poorest of poor production, with some high shrieked wailing thrown in now and then, in the vein of Burzum. It tends to result in a soup of murky chaos most of the time, a recipe that has been tried so many times it’s long past cliché and does little at unique mood-creating.
Another way to go is to interject a contrasting beautiful acoustic melody, such as in Moonfrost’s “Endless Conquest” or most of Dissection’s work. It works brilliantly in creating a mood, especially when abruptly uprising from the midst of the murky chaos of a song in which you were losing interest.
Inquisition does none of this, however, and achieves stunningly evocative moods, a testament to brilliant musicianship. “Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient” may be one of the best black metal albums I’ve heard, credit especially falling to the song “Solitary Death in the Nocturnal Woodlands”, easily one of the most beautiful pieces of black metal music I’ve heard. At 9 minutes, the length of the song does not overdo its welcome, as the slow dragging of the first 5 or 6 minutes are a necessary anticipatory lead-up to a hauntingly beautiful minute of melody.
While songs may seem long and repetitive at times, Inquisition is aware of this, redeeming songs such as “Summoned by Ancient Wizards Under a Black Moon” with brief interspersions of melodic variety when the song seems to be getting long. Not all black metal is created equally, and not all of it necessitates changes to keep it interesting. Inquisition tries to keep changes to a minimum, maintaining slow, repetitive melodies for most of their songs in an evocation of an astral atmosphere that is meant to be quietly absorbed and not impatiently skipped over.
Another atypical element of Inquisition is their vocal style. Dagon’s vocals contrast with the usual harsh, shrieking vocals of black metal, and are instead so incredibly flat and monotonous. It’s one thing for inhuman, other-worldly vocals to create an atmosphere of transcendence. It’s quite another thing for a monotone voice to evoke emotion. And, yet, that’s exactly what Dagon’s vocals do; in a mystical talent of uninflected singing, which can loosely be harkened back to Abbath’s of Immortal, Dagon manages to vary from hauntingly emotive to powerful in “Empire of Luciferian Race”. He does not just mimic Abbath’s vocals; Abbath’s vocals in Immortal are not akin to what Dagon aims successfully at achieving in Inquisition.
All in all, a masterpiece of an album from a consistent masterpiece of a black metal band.