(On October 5th, Debemur Morti Productions will release the new album by the German band Infestus. Here, we present the premiere of a full album stream, preceded by Andy Synn‘s review.)
Read about, or write about, Metal for any appreciable length of time and you’ll probably notice that we talk about evolution a lot.
In particular, we frequently refer to (and argue about) the ways in which bands evolve, or choose not to evolve, over time, and the lengths they’re willing to go to in order to develop, refine, or maintain their sound.
Some bands, of course, are like sharks – musical predators perfectly suited to their environment, with no need (or desire) to change what they do or how they do it – while others are more mutable in nature, and don’t just embrace change, but actively pursue it.
Infestus are one such band.
Beginning their existence as a much more stereotypical, though still impressive, Black Metal act, the band (now existing as the solo project of mainman Andras) have, over the course of four (now five) albums, pursued a path of steady progress and incremental evolution, to the point where even the band’s own label has taken to referring to their music as “Dark Metal” in the press materials preceding the release of their new record, Thrypsis.
And while Black Metal still makes up the foundation of the band’s music – a single listen to tracks like the tumultuous “Thron aus Trümmern” or the furious “Psychonecrosis” should be enough to reassure you of that – there’s definitely something to be said for the suggestion that this particular label no longer fully encompasses what Infestus are.
In many ways this record reminds me of the most recent Bethlehem album, in that its fearless amalgamation of blistering blastbeats and scything tremolo runs, bold, iconoclastic grooves, heavy, shuddering riffs, moody melodies, and devastatingly bleak atmospherics, is both Black Metal, and yet not. It’s a study in creative contradiction which both revels in, and refuses to be defined by, the boundaries of the style.
This comparison is, of course, particularly apt since Bethlehem were themselves arguably the first to employ the term “Dark Metal”, both as a way of describing their music and as a way of separating themselves from the stylistic stigma associated with Black Metal, and both Bethlehem and Infestus seem more interested in pursuing their own particular musical path than they do attempting to fit into the preconceived notions or expectations of others.
Morbidly infectious opener “Of Unhallowed Soil”, for example, is all about atmosphere, rather than aggression, and as heavy as the track gets in places, it’s not so much hellish as it is all too human in both form and function.
Similarly, the brooding melodies and bombastic grooves of songs like “Nights” and “Separatist” betray more than a few parallels to the works of Niklas Kvaforth and his nihilistic cohorts in Shining – another band whose sound doesn’t necessarily fit within the standard confines of Black Metal and yet generally gets referred to as such – and reveal that true darkness comes in many different forms, from the elegant to the extreme, from the haunting to the harrowing… and everything in between.
What’s more, while Thrypsis is certainly strong enough to make an instant impact on first listen, the real joy of this album is found in allowing yourself to be totally immersed within its oppressive obsidian folds, to drink it in deeply even as it swallows you in turn, until you can feel it… really feel it… right down in the very marrow of your bones.