Review Summary: Fruits of labor
Seems that a good chunk of the really awesome extreme metal bands have already been found, and each, deservedly, have their own devout fanbase and popular social media feeds. Already, several journalists online, or of the more obscure printed-type variety, document the strengths (and weaknesses) of the bands’ releases or pen their experiences at concerts (2020 being ignored for the moment). But, still, digging in unexpected places online can sometimes yield surprise rewards and hidden gems—bands and their albums that certainly deserve a following of their own, but for whatever reason have gotten swept under the rug of time.
The fruit of my labor (randomly clicking some links in dusty bandcamp cobwebs and the like): Chile’s Inanna and their stupendous 2012 album, Transfigured In A Thousand Delusions
. Inanna bring an invigorating, snarling concoction of progressive death metal to the table that recalls early Opeth, Extol, and the more recent work of mollusk warlords Slugdge—minus the salt and slime, mind you. The 1990s death metal influences from Mexico’s The Chasm and Sweden’s Dismember are also apparent, but Inanna have their own thick, well-developed sound.
is the band’s third and last proper album, and there are some key differences in comparison to the band’s second LP, 2008’s heavily progressive and ambitious Converging Ages
. For one, the deep guttural growls and blackened shrieks from bassist Max Neira and drummer Felipe Zara have improved in their level of ferocity and intensity. The production values of Inanna’s music are also better, as the guitar distortion and bass have heightened placement in the mix, all while never sounding too clean or overly glossy. The band’s progressive tendencies have also been dialed down a bit, with emphasis instead being placed on the full-throttle head-banging guitar riffs of their death metal side.
That’s not to say that tempo changes or clean and acoustic guitar passages aren’t present; they are. But Inanna now conservatively implement them at pivotal moments within the songs to better place more emphasis on their death metal riffing. For example, in highlight “Everlasting Suffering” the band transition from one of Transfigured
’s strongest riffs into an Opeth-like sobering clean passage before then launching into a melodic guitar solo that sees the prior distorted riff return with renewed vigor. Guitar solos from axemen Carlos Fuentes and Diego Llabaca are melodic and sharp, but are also only implemented at vital turning points within the songs and are never overused.
Neira’s audible bass work throughout is worth noting, and he really gets to shine during the transitioning sections of the music, as on “The Crescent Portal of Insanity”. Here, Neira works hand in hand with the guitar work of Fuentes and Llabaca in a winding dance that displays the instrumental prowess of the trio. Behind the kit, Zara is a force to be reckoned with as well; clever fills and bass drum assaults highlight riveting riff-filled passages at every turn. Zara’s greatest spotlight comes in Transfigured
’s closing track, the nearly-eleven-minute long “Ascend From The Underworld”. Halfway in, the song fades to ambiance before the band re-enter and start a steady build up from clean guitar notes. As things escalate, Zara’s powerful drumming explodes into a dazzling hellish fury, as if he is trying to outdo the band’s two axemen—and he nearly does.
Last year, Inanna signed with Memento Mori, and more recently this year the band released an archival live album on their bandcamp, so there is some hope that Transfigured
will not be the last we hear from them. This is excellent news, and it’s my hope that Inanna have grown and developed in the years since 2012, as they did from their work on 2008’s Converging Ages
to what we hear on Transfigured
. This is an album that’s definitely going to be hard to top, however, being full of instrumental prowess and smartly crafted songs. Progressive death metal doesn’t get much better than this.