You’re about to witness one of those lyric videos (less common than we might hope for) that provides enjoyment for the eyes as well as the ears. Like many such videos, it’s based upon the album art, and in this case the cover artist Enric Sant has provided some great material to work with, but Scott Ruud did his usual masterful job and turned that wonderfully realized art into a film that grips the eyes, as the vividly rendered words flash by.
Of course, as good as the video is, it is mainly a well-crafted stage-set, and what really counts is what the performers give us. Here, the performers are the Spanish band Inert, whose members are split between Stockholm and Barcelona, and the music is the title track to their debut album, Vermin.
Despite the band’s name, the new album represents change — Inert have expanded from the original duo to a quartet, and the style of the music has shifted as well, and the results are powerful, and exciting, as you will soon discover.
Almost exactly three years ago we did a series of premieres connected to Inert‘s 2016 debut EP, Obliteration of the Self. This was back when Inert consisted of only the band’s two founding members, guitarist Xavier Aguilar and vocalist/drummer Gustavo Garcia, who had known each other for many years from the metal scene in Barcelona, but didn’t join forces in Inert until Xavi had moved to Stockholm.
I will freely admit (as I have on many occasions) that I have a crippling weakness for old school Swedish death metal, and that debut EP was love at first listen, given the band’s evident devotion to the bloodline of bands like Dismember, Grave, and early Entombed, and the passion, conviction, and energy they brought into their own continuation of the lineage, in addition to the fact that the songs on the EP were irresistibly infectious.
But something has happened in these last three years. As forecast above, Inert have moved away from those first stylistic impulses, while also adding Paolo Cito (bass) and Martin Karlsson (drums) to the line-up. I learned of this shift in style through words, before I had listened to the music, and I experienced a reflexive stiffening of the spine and knitting of the brow. “What have you done?”, I thought to myself. “You were so fucking good at what you chose as the first steps on your path — why have you gone off into the forest, where naught but wolves await you?”
Well, as you can already guess, because we are here again, enthusiastically helping spread the word about Inert, their venture off the well-trodden path was not a bad move at all. The current sound is a change, but it’s very good too.
“Vermin” (the song) is still death metal, but it begins in spectral doom territory, with dismal, groaning chords, eerie flickering notes, and dramatic drum pounding, joined by harrowing howls that seem to emanate from distant catacombs. Soon enough, the music surges, all blasting drums, viciously seething riffage, and scorching vocal savagery.
One of the things about the song that will gets its hooks in your head are punctuations of rapid-fire percussive hammering within the melee of sound. An exotic, serpentine solo also rears its head like a viper, and Inert then give you a chance to bang your head like a crazy person before pulling you back into an oppressive atmosphere of misery and sickness, as the prelude to a final bout of brutal bludgeoning and rampant guitar barbarism, as Gustavo Garcia screams like a beast being strangled with barbed wire.
As you’ll see, “Vermin” (the song) doesn’t have anything nice to say about humankind. And indeed, Vermin (the album) is a concept disc about our species’ self-destructive behavior, and who could doubt that by now? “Through the album”, Inert tell us, they “explore the darkest corners of mankind: greed, baseness, deceit, envy, and violence, among others”.
The album includes nine tracks of death metal, eight of them original compositions (two in Catalan), and one of them a cover song of the indie rock band Animic (don’t scowl — it’s really good). And there are qualities from the debut EP that persist, despite the change in style, not the least of which is that these tracks will sink their hooks into your head in no time at all.
Vermin will be released on June 28th by Neckbreaker Records. It was produced by Xavier Aguilar, and co-produced by Gustavo García. Xavi also engineered and mixed the record at the SpareRoom Sound Studio. It was mastered by none other than Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. For further info about the release as it becomes available, watch these spaces:
2 Bassals de Sang
3 Murderer in Me
4 Kingdom of Sulphur
5 Values’ Decay
6 Rotten Corpse Feast
7 La Malura
8 Vermin (New Breed)
9 Horse’s Mane (cover)