(Andy Synn reviews the striking new album by Sweden’s Fifth To Infinity, which is out now via Avantgarde Music.)
One of my continuing joys in life is the discovery of new music, and each new year brings with it more potential to discover new bands, or even old bands I’ve never heard before, that I can then share with our readership here at NCS.
The (slight) downside to this, of course, is that there’s always a nagging voice in the back of my head worrying that this year will be the one when I don’t find anything good enough… particularly when compared with some of the utterly fantastic discoveries I’ve stumbled across in previous years!
So you can imagine how pleased I was to happen across this unexpected gem of an album so soon into the new year!
The band themselves describe the music on Omnipotent Transdimensional Soulfire as “Transcendental Metal of Death”… which in practice translates into a grim amalgamation of heaving, blackened Doom and dense, proggy Death Metal that’s more brooding than brutal (though far from lacking in the heaviness department), and focussed solely on the task of conjuring a gloomy, oppressive atmosphere from the intricate structuring and scaffolding of complex, progressive drum work, coiled, cryptic bass-lines, and prime cuts of jolting, constricting riffery.
The pseudo-classical, dissonant strains of “Vindar från de osaligas ängder” offer the first signs that this isn’t your standard blast-and-burn Death Metal album, leading into the unconventional jazzy crawl and crunch of “Reapers Wake”, whose unusual melding of chunky, contorted riffs, twisted, impulsive bass work, and proggy-yet-punchy drumming, recalls the experimental, exploratory sound of Sadus… albeit cast in a distinctly darker and gloomier hue.
“Masters Unbound” ups the ante in terms of straightforward heaviness with its pounding, juddering riffs and grim, almost blackened growls (strongly reminiscent, in part at least, of ex-Marduk/ex-Witchery frontman Legion), but balances this out with frequent digressions into progged-out, gloomy ambience and eerie, atmospheric territory which only serves to add to the song’s bleak and doom-laden flavour.
“The Fall of the Seven” pushes things a little further in terms of simple velocity, showcasing yet another intriguing facet of the band’s distinctive sound, with the flying feet of ex-Opeth sticksman Martin Lopez delivering a serious pounding beneath the strangling tremolo runs and jarring, dissonant chord progressions conjured from the guitar of Nader Jonas Reslan, climaxing in a starkly desolate finale that positively reeks of the influence of Tom G. Warrior.
“The Will to Harm” is, if anything, even bleaker and darker than the songs which preceded it, the creeping miasma of its dense, choking chord progressions and menacing, minimalist melodies building on the influence of latter-day Celtic Frost with palpably evil intent, whilst follow-up “Death Will Wake Us All” is strangely reminiscent of caustic Norwegian nihilists Nidingr with its raw, punishing guitar tone and brutally efficient mix of deviously dissonant riffs, spine-tingling tremolo melodies, and grim, gnarled hooks, all building to a penultimate eruption of truly epic Blackened-Prog-Death misanthropy.
The chilling melodies and striking bass work at the start of “Secrets of the Bottom” offer up some immediately eye-catching (or, more accurately, ear-catching) hooks of their own, and continue to dominate proceedings even as the track transforms into a lurching, proggy freakshow of oddly misshapen riffs and stubborn, stomping drums, which conjures an almost physical sense of soul-crushing misery over the course of its almost seven-minute run time.
Speaking of misery, “The Promise of Abyss” is a macabre Blackened Doom delight, laced with dismal, infectious melodies and shrouded in ash and desolation, whose dismal, dragging crawl provides the perfect set-up for the album’s monolithic closer, “The Blessings of Annihilation”.
Part slow-burning Black Metal anthem, part Doom-laden hymn of desolation, and seemingly constructed almost entirely of misshapen, angular off-cuts of prog-soaked Death Metal meat and marrow, its unique combination of massive riffs, deviously compelling hooks, and strange, unexpected twists and turns serves to practically encapsulate the album in microcosm, and brings the whole ghastly affair to a suitably convulsive conclusion.
What a staggeringly bleak and (un)pleasant surprise this album was… and what a way to start the new year. I can only hope all my new discoveries in 2016 will prove to be as creative, cathartic, and crushing as Omnipotent Transdimensional Soulfire.