Inferi – Revenant (2018) REVIEW

Formed all the way back in 2006 as a technically ambitious fourth-gen melodic death metal band Nashville, Tennessee based Inferi was essentially a showcase for the virtuoso skills of guitarist Malcolm Pugh and drummer Eric Brown. As Inferi became more ambitious Pugh‘s line-up fractured with each release with mixed results. Their first album ‘Divinity in War’ is a nice crossover between 00’s era technical death metal treatment of Scandinavian melodic extreme metal influences. It might not stack up with the bigger picture of the era, with bigger bands like Arsis gobbling up the mind-space, but throughout their discography Inferi have represented a decent middle ground between melodic black/death and brutal technical death metal trends.

Listening to ‘The End of An Era’ today you’d ironically think that particular era never really went away. It’s hyper-sped up, forceful and technical delivery of predictable but fastidious melodic death metal guitar patterns was surely blinding in it’s attack but didn’t amount to more than a mush of wholly average material. That second album, along with ‘The Path of Apotheosis’ were basically the sort of record your guitar teacher makes to impress the 12 year old prodigies that’ll pay the bills. With no real knowledge, or inherent love, of melody the neatly circular guitar work amounts to thrill-a-second scale runs and variations on what are long-considered generic movements. Oddly enough the addition of Chaos Moon/Entheogen drummer Jack Blackburn amplified the severely impersonal feel that carries into ‘Revenant’.

Slap me down quickly if you’re already keyed into the melo-tech death crowd and you actually don’t consider ‘Revenant’ to be too over the top for you. Because I feel the wailing progressive metal tone and rabid black/death symphony of neo-classical severity lead by Pugh’s guitar work has reached an uncomfortably mechanical apex. It is far more of a spectacle than even Fleshgod Apocalypse with orchestrations further bloating the high-speed chaotic blur of Yngwie-worthy fiddling. For all of Pugh and Co.’s shred-happiness ‘Revenant’ lacks in terms of exciting or unexpected riffing and operates within tech-death metal’s common ails of tunnel-vision. Get out of the pocket and give me some variation, please. The rapidly shredded guitar runs might avoid a lot of guitar gimmickry cliches in favor of tremolo picked melodic black/death aesthetics but the downside seems to be that it all gets a little ‘double-speed Dimmu Borgir‘-ish at times.

Though I take issue with the soulless nature of these compositions performed at impossibly flat speeds, there are a few standout moments. I think the one track on here that really begs to be listened to is “Through the Depths” as the solos from Arsis guitarist James Malone are impeccably done, outshining much of the rest of the overworked soloing on ‘Revenant’. “Behold the Bearer of Light” is also quite impressive, perhaps only because it slowed down it’s impulse and dug a little deeper for a grandeur-cranked exit. I might seem down on Inferi in general but I want to at least give the impression of high standards within the mix of melo-tech death and see bands push out more tasteful, varied records that don’t become an extreme metal blender full of grey butt-mess. ‘Revenant’ comes close to greying Inferi back into the middle of the pack but I think it is an improvement over the album before it and it’s spectacle is enough entertainment for a handful of listens.

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Artist Inferi
Type Album
Released April 21, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on The Artisan Era’s Bandcamp! Follow Inferi on Facebook
Genres

 Lead the abominations astray. 3.0/5.0

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