IFRINN – Caledonian Black Magick (2021)REVIEW

Scottish black metal artist Ifrinn arrives as blade-dripping blood from nameless practitioners, set far away from societal concerns, who’d give their selves to their craft so that the listener might focus intently upon the distortions of their merger with darkness, a swirl of mental hypnosis and physical catatonia incanted purposefully as “spell” or, portrayed in vulgar prose — We witness a possession in view of ‘Caledonian Black Magick‘, a shredding of the corporeal by the bowel-emptying, light snuffing presence of flesh altering shadows in place of grinning maenad. Only the candlelit motion resists any ensorceled duress, wherein the pulse of their conjure strikes the heart up through the temporal lobe, a pang of lost vision and anxietous terror at once. Everything goes dark beyond the unnerving threshold, presage to an avalanche of racing thoughts that’d scour away sense and self as these 25 minutes of anti-spiritual ball lightning cripple and continue to batter all bearer.

With time their rituals only become more physical, percussive and rhythmic in modulation for the sake of cyclic, complete portrayal of phrases that are too valuable to be lain in cryptic tongues. The evolution beyond gyrating punk-infused raw black metal’s rock structured heaving and (eventually) progressive ladders of riff is this manner of ritualistic intention, an unbroken circle that maintains the orthodox mayhem of black metal’s early second wave a la sophisticated classicist array yet the artist steps away from causal, easily distinguished Scandinavian threads. Ifrinn command a timeless statement for their second release, stepping beyond the hallucinogenic vortex of the eerie and much celebrated (‘Ifrinn‘, 2016) towards slightly longer, uninterrupted-yet-atmospheric pieces. The five year gap between releases finds the project wisened, howling within a greater expanse yet stripped to a precision instrument. The three 7-8 minute compositions that make up ‘Caledonian Black Magick’ are first and foremost appreciable as exceptional works of black metal guitar performance yet they may come as entirely unexpected to those familiar with their demo prior. Each piece involves some manner of psychotropic atmospheric lilt which typically acts as motif which then comes to form the major scaffolding of the song. If you are keen to Terratur Possession bands out of Trondheim bands lately (Misotheist, Mare) or some of the deeper underground Icelandic bands of the last five years (Carpe Noctem) there will be some of that same mystification felt here yet without the chasmic distance between listener and artist. There is a grit-raked and physical entity portrayed here in full detail.

The mesmer of Ifrinn‘s riffcraft, presented boldly and exuding this cruel shower of ornate, often diabolically clever works arguably peaks with the third piece “Stellar Zephyrs” as their stop-and-roll pursuit of each verse riff becomes a physical doubling-over, an ecstatic and halting set of convulsions that punctuate the ritual with nerve stoking action. There is a slight undercurrent of speed metal (or, early first wave) rhythm in some of these characterizing movements, such as certain parts of “Silent Seas of Sorcery” but these are subconscious or non-linear associations that are easier to relate to early 90’s raw expression thanks to the double-bass drum sections. Again, there is some pointed defiance of heavy rock bones here though I do not think the extant crossover of Inquisition and Sinmara fans would be any less impressed by the level of memorable arrangement herein. Leads arrive upon “evil” hooks, riffs refract their attack rather than slumping over and the more atmospheric sections on the album always state their purpose quite clearly within each song. The balance of ruthlessness and sophistication here is absolutely approachable and enriching, ‘Caledonian Black Magick’ is at once a stunning “guitar album” as much as it is a hypnotic and mind-rending experience. A very high recommendation, and without question one of the finest black metal releases of April.

Very high recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Caledonian Black Magick
LABEL(S):The Sinister Flame
RELEASE DATE:April 30th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Black Metal

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