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Once in a while, the hype outlives the music. De Infernali is one of those bands. With music, lyrics and vocals contributed by Jon Nödtveidt, you would expect much greater quality in this Symphonia De Infernali. And Dan Swanö doing vocals on Sign of the Dark should up the ante on quality here. Ultimately, however, this fails on many levels.
What starts with “Into the Labyrinths of Desolation”, which is a dark, hypnotic piano and organ piece, supplemented with woodwinds, which is one of the most enjoyable songs on here. It’s not heavy, but it’s relaxingly evil and thoughtful.
After such a great song, we’re treated to some of the worst work that Jon has ever had his name credited to. “Ave Satan” sounds like a pathetic attempt to recreate part of the Halloween theme combined with something a cheerleader might find enjoyable (see 1:01 to 1:28, among other portions). One would think that drugs had some serious drug issues to think that this would be good music.
There are moments of greatness here, and there are moments of utter failure as well. I see to find when the techno and vocals kick it, this album becomes an ordeal. “Sign of the Dark” with Dan Swanö finds him in rare forgettable form, using clean vocals that would ruin this song if not for its own simplicity and the ability for the listener to forget this “music”. “Atomic Age” and “Liberation” suffer from the same fate as “Ave Satan” – poor vocals and even more pathetic song structures. And “X” seems to be static filler and very much worth skipping.
Orcus Cursus, however, has the same advantage as “Into the Labyrinths of Desolation”. The musicianship bypasses the techno and goes straight into orchestral soundtrack music, which works wonders. And “Revival / Paraxysmal Winds / Forever Gone”, is the only song that starts to approach greatness, with the same qualities of the aforementioned instrumentals and one short, jarring thunderstorm interrupted by a chant by Jon. This is the only time a song with vocals works on this album.
Sadly, I have to rate this album low, as there’s not a lot here for fans or Jon Nödtveidt, Dan Swanö or metal in general. If you like sub-standard techno with hints of melancholic greatness, thought, this might be for you. However, if you’re a Dissection purist, avoid this at all costs.
Very few people have ever heard of De Infernali, a short-lived Electronica project created when two Swedish room mates experimented with the genre in 1996. But mention that one Jon Nödtveidt comprised half of this duo’s line up and many Metal fans will start to take slightly more notice. “Symphonia De Infernali”, the pair’s only release under this moniker, is a one-off chance to hear the Dissection front man dabbling with a genre far removed from the Black and Death Metal leanings of his main band. Also, if you are able to track down this album, which has become quite a rarity since its low-key release, you may very well be in for a pleasant surprise, especially those that are fans of ambient music.
First of all, when you think of a Black Metal musician delving into the world of ambient Electronica music, it is perhaps inevitable to think of Varg Vikernes of Burzum sitting in a corner of his jail cell, synthesiser in hand, releasing frankly worthless crap. Get rid of this image immediately. “Symphonia De Infernali” is no “Dauði Baldrs” or “Hliðskjálf”, sounding far too relaxed and somehow professional to even compare to the horrifically immature and emotionally hollow electronic experiments of Black Metal’s most infamous convict. Instead, what you will find is a dark, brooding piece of work which is at times unsettling, almost as if it were purposefully created as some kind of Black Metal chill out album.
Opener “Into The Labyrinths Of Desolation” sets the initial pace perfectly, with a soft but haunting repeated piano passage amidst an array of equally spacious synthesiser arrangements. This is a continuous theme on several tracks throughout the album, such as “Orcus Lursus” and “Revival/Paroxysmal Winds/Forever Gone”, both of which stand out due to their wonderful dark ambience thanks to main programmer Damien. Nödtveidt also contributes vocals on certain tracks, like the distorted howls on “Ave Satan” and the well performed clean vocals on “Sign Of The Dark”. On tracks such as these, the music takes a slightly more Gothic and Industrial route, which at times sounds rather clumsy and somewhat pales in contrast to the far greater ambient Electronica sound. Still, many Dissection fans will most likely be curious to hear the usually aggressive vocal chords of Nödtveidt playing a different, often more restrained role.
Obviously, an album such as “Symphonia De Infernali” is not going to be to everyone’s tastes due to its somewhat eclectic and inaccessible style. Some will probably only want to hear it because of the Dissection link, but it would not be surprising if those people really treasure this album after their initial curiosity has faded. An unexpected treat from a side project that was sadly far too transitory to make a deeper impact.
Originally written for http://www.blastwave.co.uk