INQUISITION: “BLOODSHED ACROSS THE EMPYREAN ALTAR BEYOND THE CELESTIAL ZENITH”
It is time to put to rest any of the grumbling you might have heard in regard to the new Inquisition. Some people were more than likely already in a bad mood after hearing the new Metallica or only had a marginal intrest in Inquisition to begin with. The truth is, their new album sounds just like them, right when Dagon lets the chords ring out with such eerie dissonance.
They are not out to win over any new fans. This is not to say they are just dialing it in, as drummer Incubus brings some sinister grooves and really lays into his high hat. In the car my wife complained the crash was a little tinny, but I didn’t hear that, and overall the mix has the dense sound that I want from them.
Vocally… well, it is what it is. The croaked vocals sound a little more relaxed on the opener while everything else is amped up. “Wings of Anu” feels like it carries a similar throb as the opener. The riff coming out of the chorus has some teeth to it. Lyrically, if it’s not about some version of Satan, it’s about a planet of reptiles.
The beginning of the third song finds them getting much more melodic, only to have that false sense of security run over by another bleak, bulldozing attack. This is where we can begin to detect the subtle signs of growth. It’s not all just blast beats, and when they are used, said blast beats tend to come in the form of quick outbursts rather than the glue holding the songs together.
The chug to “A Black Aeon Shall Cleanse” slows down to gain power. This brings them relatively closer to a more mainstream metal sound, aside from the deadpan croak of Dagon’s narrative. The slithering riff brings subtle time changes, as the deliberate pacing of this song proves to be very effective.
There is more of a black metal tremolo in “The Flames of Infinite Blackness”. The guitar melody in this song is yet another sign of growth for the band. I can hear where some of the band’s following might be ready to lament over them selling out or evolving too far away from their earlier work as their sonic spectrum expands, but they need to get over themselves because this meets all the expectations of an Inquisition album. It feels like this was a very natural progression.
Satan is muttered about throughout the album, but his infernal majesty is addressed the most directly on “Through the Divine Spirit of Satan”. The vocals work more in conjunction with the guitars, which lock into a verse riff that is almost catchy. A rare guitar solo also surfaces here.
“Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar” shows they can grow without sacrificing the magnitude of their heaviness. There is a more deliberate classic metal drum beat to this song, which a certain portion of their fan base who are blast-beats-or-bust might resist, but fuck ’em, they are idiots anyway. Inquisition hold off until almost three minutes into the song to converge into something resembling a conventional song and summon up some pretty fucking crazy guitar tones along the way.
A big metal guitar crunch kicks off “Power From the Center of the Cosmic”. Two and a half minutes in, it really builds into a solid groove. They fire into a more standard black metal speed for “A Magnificent Crypt of Stars”. At this point it is clear that the guitar is the focal point of the album, even though there is some solid drumming on it.
I am impressed by this album, as it strikes me as some of Inquisition’s best work to date. After having had a week to sit on it, repeat listens are very comfortable, and it proves to be one of those albums I can leave on and let play throughout the day.
That album title sounds like something Bal-Sagoth could’ve made up.
The best part of this review is the fact that your wife not only tolerates this style of music but actually has in depth critique. I don’t even bother to play this stuff around mine 🙂
As far as the album goes I think it’s a grower. It didn’t grab me at first listen like previous works but I’ll give it another go.
The first two tracks released were not very promisig and to be quite honest I was a little worried. Wings of Anu sounded really weak for some reason. HOWEVER now that I have heard the entire album I must say that I am quite relieved that this thing delivers in all aspects and is definitely the Inquisition I know and love. This thing rips as soon as the music starts and by track 2, “Wings of Anu” its firing on all cylinders and the digestion of the album as a whole really improves a song that I initially wrote off as weak. There are a few new elements mixed in but it does not come across as experimentation and does not affect the overall sound as an experienced metal head will immediately and undoubtedly recognize this as Inquisition album. There is more variation in the vocal delivery but again one will know its Dagon. This band continues to entertain and impress.
It’s crazy you make this comment, as that was literally my exact feeling- I was not feeling either of the first two preview tracks, although they make sense in context. Once I heard “Power From the Center of the Black Cosmic Spiral” for the first time, I knew this album was going to be good. Listening to it stream digitally was solid, but upon finally getting to listen on record, I think this may be their best album.
Inquisition is that rarest of bands that no other band sounds anything like, manages with each release to organically expand their sonic arsenal while remaining true to their template and most importantly, always write amazing albums. This is the most consistent and consistently radical band in metal IMHO. They also bring it live. Big time.