Death metal is a difficult landscape to stake one’s claim in. An act can hardly incorporate symphonic elements, blackened influences, groove, or technicality into their sound without brushing up against countless other bands that have been mining the same territory for their entire careers. Nonetheless, Inferi seem to have found their own space in the scene. The act’s ability to use a variety of tried tropes without ever becoming over-reliant on them is a large part of what makes Revenant, the band’s fourth outing, a success. Revenant will be released through Artisan Era Records on April 21.
Rain, claps of thunder, strings, harps, and keys set the scene for Revenant on opener “Within the Dead Horizon”. This theatrical introduction provides a strong if wholly expected contrast with the thunderous tech-death that follows. This track acts as a summary of Revenant: tasteful symphonic sections, neoclassical riffing and solos, and blackened shrieks amidst deathly bellows. Though these various ideas may seem unfocused in less mature hands, Inferi craft them into powerful songs. An example is the string interlude about four minutes into the song that develops into a particularly epic closing before fading out with soft guitars.
A cursory listen of Revenant suggests that the record may be a bit oversaturated. “Condemned Assailant” updates Iron Maiden’s harmony guitar duals for tech-death amidst one of the more atmospheric and melodeath-inspired songs on the album. “Enraged and Drowning Sullen” evokes Fleshgod Apocalypse with a menacing harpsichord intro before moving into Inferi’s signature staccato, classically influenced riffage. “Thy Menacing Gaze” amps up the orchestral flair, but does so in a way that feels fresh and emphatic. Though neoclassicism, blackened tinges, and symphonic flourishes fill the record, Inferi balance their barrage of ideas with a constant commitment to songwriting.
The towering “Behold The Bearer of Light” ends the album with a breadth that encompasses both the diversity and intensity that Revenant has to offer. Rippling clean guitars and marching drums open the finale. These flow into blast beats and atmospheric leads that mix Fallujah-like ambiance and blackgaze aesthetics. This song’s comparatively understated neoclassical staccato riffage and tasty bass lines show Inferi dialing back their tech-death onslaught slightly. This restraint provides a welcome contrast to some of the more relentless parts of the record. It is with this adventurous spirit that the album closes. Inferi undoubtedly demonstrate technical prowess, but their instrumental explorations here show the band’s potential to transcend easy genre classifications and move into a technical yet atmospheric, classical-inspired death metal niche all their own.
Revenant impressed me with my first listen. Thankfully, repeat spins have continued to maintain my interest while revealing some of the initially hidden subtleties of the record. Even though some arrangements may initially seem to overflow, the album’s nine tracks never quite overstay their welcome. Inferi have matured as songwriters since their previous release. It is this maturity that has allowed the band to successfully create a complex, multi-faceted but, most importantly, enjoyable progressive and technical death metal record.
Notable Tracks: “Condemned Assailant”; “Behold The Bearer of Light”
FFO: Fallujah, Scrambled Defuncts, Shadow of Intent, Fleshgod Apocalypse