Review Summary: behold the bearer of riffs
2014 was a more than decent year for death metal with the likes of Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails
and Artificial Brain’s Labyrinth Constellation
making a big splash in the tech-death community (the former to my disdain). Inferi’s previous outing, The Path Of Apotheosis
, unfortunately being outshined by other prominent releases of its year. For those who noticed, It was a huge step up from any of their previous work and made them a definite force to be reckoned with. Quickly becoming a benchmark album in the genre by being able to pull off staggeringly coherent technical melodeath many hadn't really quite heard before. They sounded so unabashedly energetic and oh so hungry
. So I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that Revenant
is marginally more nuanced and mature than anything the band has ever crafted before.
The guitar playing is so damned tight and frenetic it's almost dizzying at times. The playing is admirably quite impressive, even for seasoned listeners of the genre. It brings me great pleasure to hear how satisfyingly triumphant in concept and execution the overall song structures are this time around. The atmosphere throughout the album is grandiose and epic, the kind of epic heights melodeath bands wish they could reach. They've refined their already exceptional modus operandi to goliath distances and sound undeniably massive (Smolder in the Ash
oh my god).The main focus of the band has always been their astounding dual guitar work by Malcolm Pugh and Mike Low. Both of the aforementioned guitarists have been in other projects of similar nature and prowess but this is truly some of their very best work. The guitar solos are still aplenty and multiple are present on every track. They're all diverse and some even melancholic and almost, always goose-bump inducing, as the best solos in death metal should
be. The intro to the nine minute epic that is Malevolent Sanction
is probably the most beautiful orchestral moment on the whole album, displaying vibrant strings, violins, and acoustic guitars that appropriately gets you into the perfect head space for the ensuing tundra of soaring riffs and melodies that will follow. The songwriting is always dynamic, always taking the songs in surprising directions. The songs present all average at about five minutes in length and will require repeated listens, not for the reasons you’d think; but even on the third and fourth listens, I was hearing completely new intricacies and flourishes in the compositions that had flown right by me the first couple of times. Not because I wasn't listening intently but because each individual track is meticulously crafted and packed to the brim with dozens and dozens of methodical riffs.
The drum playing by Jack Blackburn is much more varied this time around, almost always blasting away at inhuman speeds but letting the compositions breath at the appropriate times. The bass guitar is surprisingly high in the mix and the overall sound is all the better for it. One of the two new members to the bands lineup; Joel Schwallier is a wonderfully proficient bassist and his style compliments the technical wizardry of the guitarists. The bass lines dance around the dual guitar assault and there are even some really tasteful bass solos sprinkled throughout the album. The high bass tone makes for a much fuller and immersive sound that does the bands overall style absolute wonders. The track Condemned Assailant
is a testament to their songwriting craft because it kept going to unexpected places and I honestly never wanted it to end. They added a new vocalist that strictly does the high vocals ala their previous vocalist. He does a fine job but they can become a bit grating, as their isn’t much variation to the vocals. Leaving much to be desired in the vocal department, mostly because the low vocals/growls by lead guitarist Malcolm Pugh are much more sparse this time around. Also, a detraction I can see for some is that this can be pretty exhausting to listen to all in one go. All the songs being so dense and playing with their own motifs and ideas can be potentially a bit numbing for the uninitiated, perhaps better if digested in two halves. Despite this, every song has robust staying power and are way catchier than they have any business being.
This is exactly what melodic death metal should sound like in the current year. Full of mesmerizing riffs, impassioned solos, more than excellent musicianship, and an even fuller realization of their engrossing approach and atmosphere. The scope of the music is grand and it hits all the right spots and more for anyone interested in the genre. I'm extremely happy to say that my expectations were through the roof for their follow up to The Path of Apotheosis
and they have, to be frank, been obliterated. Technical as can be, incorporating blackened elements, and sheer brutality and melody melded seamlessly, we are being desensitized and spoiled for all others that will follow after this. Inferi has never sounded better and the band is setting a new standard yet again, for melodic death metal.