(We present DGR‘s review of the latest album by Nashville-based Inferi, out now on The Artisan Era, with cover art by Helge Balzer.)
It’s a mantra often repeated when it comes to Inferi albums – and actually, to a much larger extent, the Artisan Era‘s artist roster as a whole, considering the label’s specialization – that Inferi releases are the sorts of albums that put the tech-death concept of “everything and the kitchen sink” songwriting to shame, the sort of releases where long after the first listen you’re still finding new things that will perk your interest.
Inferi’s latest album Vile Genesis is in that vein, with eight songs absolutely bursting at the seams with different elements, riff worship, frenetic leads, frenzied drumming, hefty bass work, and manic vocals that just constantly seems to be ratcheted up to 120% with absolutely no room to breathe. The band have long since made a name for themselves in the world of ‘we play fast’ but it’s still just as initially overwhelming as it always is.
You’d never think someone managed to figure out how to get a bulldozer to set a landspeed record, but somehow Inferi do it every time they put out an album. You put it on, get run over, and then you do it again and again as the music just whips past you. Which is likely going to be a pretty common occurrence among listeners because Vile Genesis has a lot of really good material to dig into and you’re going to be bowled over constantly doing it.
One of the things that doesn’t need to be stated about Inferi at this point is that the talent level on display here is incredibly high, but we’ll say it anyway. No matter who has been in the group’s lineup – and in some cases sibling groups and various other projects – the bar for entry is way the hell up there. To say that you need to be nimble and dextrous is putting it politely because this style of music makes giving your instruments a workout a requirement, and its something the Inferi crew have gotten exceedingly good at.
They’ve maintained the lineup from last year’s Of Sunless Realms, and while they’ve let the green from that release’s logo infect the whole album artwork here, they’ve also stuck with the body horror and otherworldly subject matter. The band try to cram in just as many extreme metal subgenres as there are reanimated bodies with alien overlords on the cover. The way they grind through them means at one moment you might actually here a really kick-ass melo-death riff only to have it be immediately stomped into the dirt by one of the brawnier breakdowns to come out of the -core scene, only to have that fed back into the meatgrinder by the band’s preferred lightspeed-tempo and blast-happy drumming.
It may sound like an odd proposition, but the band actually working synth and orchestration into the opening number “No Gods But Our Flesh” is perfectly fitting. Its always been present in the Inferi sound – 2014’s The Path Of Apotheosis had a bit as well – but it also feels like a ‘why the hell not?’ moment, because they’re going to throw everything else into these songs anyway.
Vile Genesis goes on a musical rampage from there, unleashing these dense five-minute blocks of music on you one after the other. It’s kind of cruel that “Maelstrom Prison” comes so early in the tracklisting because that song is an early highlight, easily one of the more dynamic songs on Vile Genesis and also one that makes plenty of use of the Inferi vocal assault as well. “Maelstrom Prison” is a song where the fun of it is hearing how the band slowly ratchet up the speed-factor in the track while still trying to retain the haunting opening melody that made up that first minute. Everything just builds throughout that song and by the time you reach the end you could probably suffocate under the weight of the guitar-work alone, no other assistance needed.
When the band are firing on all cylinders by the end of that song, its hard not to just let it repeat again. That you then move from “Maelstrom Prison” into a murderers row of songs in “Simian Hive”, “From Exile To Exaltation”, and the crusher of “Vile Genesis” in song form shows that the band make good usage of their time. You’ll find something within the first five tracks to make you keep going back before you even consider landing on one of the album’s early singles in “Mesmetic Horror”.
However, it wouldn’t be this style if there weren’t a few songs where the group reach for the truly epic, which is where “Mesmetic Horror”, “Carving Thine Kingdom” and “Heirs Of The Descent” fit in. With two of those three being some of the longest songs on Vile Genesis, Inferi give themselves plenty of room to breathe – or in their case, plenty of room to jam out a ton of material – and how those three songs just expand wider and wider makes for a fitting end to Vile Genesis.
“Heirs Of The Descent” may be the longest song on the release – even if you shave off the last minute of quiet guitar and piano orchestration – but it is a lot like “Maelstrom Prison” in that it has so many movements within it that the song is magnetic enough to draw you in multiple times. Inferi were aiming to portray the alien and otherworldly here, and “Heirs Of The Descent” does some serious work drawing up a full invasion of aural destruction in the span of a song. At the very least you could never accuse them of stuffing the highlights all in the front of Vile Genesis, because they chose one of them to be the closer of the release.
Yes, like many of the Inferi releases we’ve covered here – and there’s been a lot – Vile Genesis is an album that is almost constantly overwhelming when taken as a whole. The Inferi crew are talented in just leaving you slackjawed and thinking to yourself, “they’re still going huh”, as they tear through song after song. However, where Vile Genesis makes a serious play at being one of Inferi’s best is just how much work the band put in making the record different during each insane-tempo attack.
Often, this style of music can blur together – and Vile Genesis has its moments for sure – but here Inferi have devoted serious work inyo making each song more distinct than ever before (and they’ve been working on that for a few releases now). Vile Genesis reaps the rewards of a very practiced and very focused approach to it, so that the eight songs here aren’t just a display of tech-death wonder-works. There’s catchy riff work here, some incredibly dynamic songwriting, and serious brutality when the song calls for it.
We’ve sounded the alarm about this Tennessee-based crew many times before, but Vile Genesis is one of the better opportunities to get into the band if you haven’t been swept up in one of their previous broadsides already.