without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
I first heard about these guys when I saw them on tour last year and was blown away by their performance. It was like I stepped back in time 20 years and was watching Slayer back when Kerry King still had hair. Not to compare their sound with Slayer though, these guys are much different. After their set I immediately headed over to their merch table and picked up copies of each of their cd's, both of which have a permanent homes in my cd changer.
A Symphony Of Suffering combines the old school death metal vibe of bands like Morbid Angel with black metal keys, but with not as much of a presence as, say, bands like Emperor and Dimmu Borgir. Being a fan of both genres, I naturally got into it quickly.
The album starts off with a slow but powerful intro that builds into the first brutal track, Embodiment of Sin, which is one of the best tracks on the album in my opinion. The next song, Sleeping God, starts off even heavier but leads way to a pretty moody solo section where the guitars, keys, and bass switch off on the melody underneath the solo. The next two tracks, Oracle of Armageddon and March of Death, are where the album seems to get blacker, and then the album finisher A.I.D.S seems to basically be a straight forward death metal track, bringing all concepts of the genre to blend effortlessly together.
Although a short album, what it lacks in length, it makes up for in heaviness. I'm looking forward to hearing much more from these guys in the future, and if they ever play anywhere near you I'd strongly recommend you get out to see them.
I heard Infernaeon's original demo about a year and a half before this LP came out, and I was blown away by it. It's one of those things that is able to twist the formula just enough to support extremely strong songwriting and kick every ass in the world in its way. It's had an incredibly fiery, demonic feel to it; very reminiscent of good old Nocturnus, and not just in the usage of keyboards. Anyway, it was a badass demo and I want to hear it again after acquiring 'A Symphony Of Suffering'.
This is because something was CLEARLY lost in translation in those three years between demo and album. The stunning clarity and darkness of vision that Infernaeon demonstrated back in '04 has withered to a mere shell of its former grandeur, leaving us with an album that, while not quite BAD, does dwell in the realm of mediocrity occupied by so many others. This album lacks the core of the occult atmosphere that flooded the demo, the intense oldschool production, the furious instrumentation, everything that made it so great. This is a muzzled, sedated version of what Infernaeon once was, and damn if it's not disappointing to see a band fall so far so fast.
So if you don't know Infernaeon's gimmick, they're a 'symphonic' death metal band. By symphonic we mean that they use a synthesizer that sometimes sounds like a violin. Apart from this extra layer, Infernaeon is a pretty typical modern death metal, albeit with a pinch more romanticism, lyrical eloquence, and musical grandiosity than most. All the instruments are handled capably and the music has at least a modicum of technicality present throughout. The drumming is probably the most simplistic part of this: it's composed of your fairly standard rock beats, blasting, double bass, and the occasional technical fill, but it gets the job done (apart from having a really weird, dry snare sound that seems oddly cheap for the otherwise crystal-clear production). The keys aren't quite omnipresent, but they do come in pretty frequently, generally in the slower, more 'atmospheric' parts, and allow the band to play on without synthestra accompaniment during the faster sections. Guitars are moderately technical: expect lots of tremolo riffs, the occasional chunky little DM thing and lots of really overblown cock-rock soloing. Notice that I'm not commenting on anything that these instruments are actually playing: just the tools that they use to get there, wherever 'there' is supposed to be.
This is because 'A Symphony Of Suffering' is really just a bunch of ingredients. The riffs kind of work, but they still feel like they're just sitting there, not really propelling the music anywhere in particular. Even the dramatic, multifaceted vocal performance of Brian Werner can't hide the fact that Infernaeon is, a lot of the time, just treading water and going nowhere in particular. There's 'atmospheric' parts, but I couldn't tell you what the atmosphere was, there's a hundred memorable riffs that I can't remember, and a dozen symphonic accompaniments that don't do anything but to add another fairly meaningless layer to the whole equation. Back in the demo days, Infernaeon's music was a completely singular entity, with every instrument working in perfect tandem to drive home the point of the songs. Now they're just a collection of different pieces which vaguely harmonize but never achieve anything with their noise.
The music is passable, yeah, but it's also pretty silly. A lot of the riffs (which often sound like they were created to accent the keyboards, not the other way around) sound like carnival music to me more than death metal, and a lot of the music is so intensely focused on being dramatic, epic, and demonic that it completely overshoots the goal and just lands in the area of self-parody. Additionally, for a full-length album, this is pretty fucking thin on ideas at times. There's a lot of instrumental sections here composed of filler riffs and rock beats which were clearly just designed to inflate the running time (which even then just barely gets past the half hour mark). The silliness even extends to the lyrics: yeah, they're well written insofar as having some clever turns of phrase and descriptions, but there's just as many awkwardly strict rhyme schemes and slavish devotion to subject matter. Besides, death metal has never BEEN a lyrical genre, anyway, so why does it feel like so much time was spent on them at the cost of the rest of the music?
The fact is that despite the enjoyable moments on this disc, it's a tremendous letdown from Infernaeon's previous work. The music's not particularly heavy, brutal, or dark sounding, instead being more infatuated with carefully constructed layers of guitar riffs and keyboard lines. A fairly popular internet metal critic once called Deathspell Omega an aesthetic and nothing more; I'd say that this is a pretty handy description of 'A Symphony Of Suffering'. The music here is all appearance, showmanship, demonstrative songwriting that merely gives the appearance of progress and darkness. If aesthetics made the world go 'round, 'A Symphony Of Suffering' would be brilliant; as it stands, the flaw in both those previous statements is, quite simply, that they do not and are not, respectively.
A Symphony of Suffering, Infernaeon's first album is... well, pretty interesting. I really think there is a much too large absence of Symphonic Death Metal bands, and I've gotta say that's pretty fucked up. Because ASoS is a pleasant surprise. Okay, at the time of writing this, M-A must have been down, because I'm not getting shit from their site, and all of this was written from their wiki on last.fm. Okie dokie then, back to the music!
ASoS starts off with a relatively short track entitled Shades of Obscurity, which is just a quick little opener with some darkish orchestra playing a little melody with some marching pattern drum rolls. A pretty cool opener, especially the minimalistic, and really evil sounding guitar towards the end. Very atmospheric track that does it's job well.
Next, you've got Embodiment of Sin, a somewhat heavy intro that leads into some symphonic samples, and then levels back off with some simple guitar riffs that again seem to be used to create atmosphere more than anything else, and then it switches off again for some really heaving background riffs, and then AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN. Fast, heavy, slow, atmospheric, heavy, HEAVIER, slow, melodic, FAST, etc. All in all, a good track, I suppose. Showcases a lot of Brian Werner's vocal ranges, high & hoarse, high pitched screams, low & guttural, and low/gutturally hoarse (o.O). For some reason, it's really not quite as impressive at a... probably fiftieth listen now that I'm really absorbing it all.
Afterwards there's Sleeping God, my personal favorite. Werner holds a roar for like 39 fucking seconds at the end. Okay, to be blunt, Lord Worm's is more impressive, as that crazy shit's screaming, while Brian here is just holding off a roar... But in any case, it's really showing off some great breath control. The songs also very atmospheric, with some dark ambient symphonic samples thrown in with some heavy guitar riffs harmonizing with Werner's voice. BW goes low, Sam Molina & Co. go techy. BW goes high, SM & Co go CUH-RAZY! Crazy as in pulling off some pretty heavy riffs/ really fast playing, etc. (What's you'd expect from a DEATH METAL BAND)
The last three tracks, Oracle of Armageddon, March of Death, and A.I.D.S. (Annihilating The Inner Decay Of Species) are the end to a saga told within the whopping 31 minutes of ASoS. Much heavier than those preluding them, somewhat more guitar driven, blah blah blah.
Okay, in closing, Infernaeon's debut album, A Symphony of Suffering is an interesting concept album with some great vocals, above par guitar playing, and in all some decent song composition. I'd recommend checking them out, but really, it's nothing amazing. I did the best I could guys, sorry. To sum up the overall instruments, btw, somewhat varied drum patterns, not much blast beating going on, a good bit of double bass harmonized with a chugged, heavily distorted guitar riff. Interestingly placed symphonic samples throughout precise intervals, really good vocalist, etc. Worth a download, I suppose.