Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Infernal - Infernal (1999)

After leaving Dark Funeral, sometime in 1996, Blackmoon directed his efforts toward recording the second Necrophobic album, Darkside. Following this, he was involved with the War project. He also put together yet another band, recruiting former Dark Funeral vocalist, Themgoroth, and Impious (of In Aternum). In late 1998, these three were joined by Matte Modin as they entered Dugout Studio to record their self-titled E.P. The recording would then be completed at Abyss Studio, which was also the spawning ground of The Secrets of the Black Arts. The cover art was taken from "Inferno" (The Divine Comedy) by Gustave Dore and the band makes specific mention, in the liner notes, that no keyboards were used on this recording. That says a lot for the musical climate, at that time, as far too many bands were emerging from all sides, hiding awful musicianship beneath a wall of synth. None of that is found here. What the listener is exposed to, here, is what the Infernal call 'Satanic Holocaust Metal'. This is a very appropriate description.

"Requiem (The Coming of the Age of Satan)" erupts like a violent storm of dark and malevolent forces, seeking to utterly destroy the frail human spirit as Blackmoon's nocturnal melodies are accompanied by Themgoroth's absolutely demonic screams. The drumming is incredibly intense, yet very skilled. The guitar solo proves to be another welcome addition to the music. This song is merciless in its approach, completely crushing everything in its path. The sound is very similar to The Secrets of the Black Arts, yet even more violent and destructive. Despite its chaotic fury, the riffs are actually very memorable. It is very obvious that this song was composed by no amateur.

"Wrath of the Infernal One" begins with more of Blackmoon's trademark riffs, creating a cold and nocturnal aura. The lyrics are as blasphemous and evil as anything found on the early Dark Funeral material. About halfway through, there is yet another lead solo, just to add to the dark atmosphere. This song has a barbaric pace, much like the opener, yet the exceptional songwriting abilities possessed by Blackmoon are revealed here, as this is similar and yet quite different from that song.

The next song is "Storms of Armageddon", bursting forth from the deepest abyss to take your feeble human spirit into the darkness, only to be ripped to shreds and condemned to hellish torment. Mid-way through, there is another brief solo that sounds reminiscent of something from an early Necrophobic album. The tremolo riffs that slither through the chaos seem to take hold in the darkest recesses of your mind, haunting you long after the song has concluded.

"Under the Hellsign" is the final song, beginning with demonic screams from beyond. This continues the frantic pace that has been established by this point. This E.P. would make a good soundtrack for a battle. The cold tremolo riffs stand out amidst the hellish storm of blasting drums and Themgoroth's possessed vocals, sounding a bit like old Mayhem. There is not much variation, from song to song, as the same fast pace dominates this recording, yet it is impressive to see a band managing to accomplish the most within these limits, making sure that each song has an identity of its own.

If you were disappointed with the direction taken by Dark Funeral, following the departure of Blackmoon and Themgoroth, then you are encouraged to seek this out. What you will find here is violent and uncompromising Swedish Black Metal.