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Infernal is the less-talked about project of Blackmoon and Themgoroth after their departure from Dark Funeral. The band never managed to release a full-length album and so the obvious place to start is with this debut EP, an eponymous four songs of blasphemous and blazing blackened wrath tantamount in intensity to any other Swedish band I can think of from the era. Plenty of bands blast and blast, but few feel as utterly relentless as the fiendish energy lent these compositions by what is going on percussively on this record.
The riffs on this fucker just absolutely cascade. That's the word that comes to mind with Blackmoon, Larsson and Themgoroth's punishing guitar work. It's thoroughly evil sounding material, arguably more ardent and wrathful than Dark Funeral's debut long player. The EP's ferocious black metal riffing lends itself nicely to the ripping death metal solos. The opener 'Requiem' just escalates and escalates, working in driving blackened thrash drumming among the blasting, while the amazing 'Wrath of the Infernal One' has this great use of almost chanted rasps and, along with 'Under the Hellsign', has a violent song structure something akin to Angelcorpse or Impiety were they far, far frostier and just as hostile to life. 'Storms of Armageddon' delivers exactly that, a third maelstrom of absurdly vicious extremity, with that same almost Canadian propensity for barbarism in the songwriting and a few short areas that seem to derive directly from death metal but still sound black as fuck.
The progression of each song is highly ominous, sometimes sounding like it should be played on a brass section in some horror movie soundtrack. I'm no musician but the vibe I get from the progression of most highly violent, fast extreme metal is one of increasing wrath and energy. Infernal manage to go beyond this and seemingly conjure a threatening and morbid atmosphere, where each bar seems to draw you a few feet lower into the waiting swirl of devouring fire and the winged bestiary that will take you down into Sathan's dominion.
Both more instantly appealing and more durable than any Dark Funeral release (and I say that as a big fan of not just the debut but most of Dark Funeral's work), never even requiring me to be in the right mood to listen to it for enjoyment to be had once I actually put it on. I think a couple of albums in this style and with this line-up would have made this band truly legendary, rather than just this EP being a classic.
After leaving Dark Funeral, sometime in 1996, Blackmoon directed his efforts toward recording the second Necrophobic album, Darkside. Following this, he was involved with the War project. He also put together yet another band, recruiting former Dark Funeral vocalist, Themgoroth, and Impious (of In Aternum). In late 1998, these three were joined by Matte Modin as they entered Dugout Studio to record their self-titled E.P. The recording would then be completed at Abyss Studio, which was also the spawning ground of The Secrets of the Black Arts. The cover art was taken from "Inferno" (The Divine Comedy) by Gustave Dore and the band makes specific mention, in the liner notes, that no keyboards were used on this recording. That says a lot for the musical climate, at that time, as far too many bands were emerging from all sides, hiding awful musicianship beneath a wall of synth. None of that is found here. What the listener is exposed to, here, is what the Infernal call 'Satanic Holocaust Metal'. This is a very appropriate description.
"Requiem (The Coming of the Age of Satan)" erupts like a violent storm of dark and malevolent forces, seeking to utterly destroy the frail human spirit as Blackmoon's nocturnal melodies are accompanied by Themgoroth's absolutely demonic screams. The drumming is incredibly intense, yet very skilled. The guitar solo proves to be another welcome addition to the music. This song is merciless in its approach, completely crushing everything in its path. The sound is very similar to The Secrets of the Black Arts, yet even more violent and destructive. Despite its chaotic fury, the riffs are actually very memorable. It is very obvious that this song was composed by no amateur.
"Wrath of the Infernal One" begins with more of Blackmoon's trademark riffs, creating a cold and nocturnal aura. The lyrics are as blasphemous and evil as anything found on the early Dark Funeral material. About halfway through, there is yet another lead solo, just to add to the dark atmosphere. This song has a barbaric pace, much like the opener, yet the exceptional songwriting abilities possessed by Blackmoon are revealed here, as this is similar and yet quite different from that song.
The next song is "Storms of Armageddon", bursting forth from the deepest abyss to take your feeble human spirit into the darkness, only to be ripped to shreds and condemned to hellish torment. Mid-way through, there is another brief solo that sounds reminiscent of something from an early Necrophobic album. The tremolo riffs that slither through the chaos seem to take hold in the darkest recesses of your mind, haunting you long after the song has concluded.
"Under the Hellsign" is the final song, beginning with demonic screams from beyond. This continues the frantic pace that has been established by this point. This E.P. would make a good soundtrack for a battle. The cold tremolo riffs stand out amidst the hellish storm of blasting drums and Themgoroth's possessed vocals, sounding a bit like old Mayhem. There is not much variation, from song to song, as the same fast pace dominates this recording, yet it is impressive to see a band managing to accomplish the most within these limits, making sure that each song has an identity of its own.
If you were disappointed with the direction taken by Dark Funeral, following the departure of Blackmoon and Themgoroth, then you are encouraged to seek this out. What you will find here is violent and uncompromising Swedish Black Metal.
Merciless and like a hellish thunderstorm, loaded with the infernal hate of the Dark One Infernalâ€™s debut crushes upon the listener, the worthless, wretched mortal human being, this entity of flesh, whose existence is merely a live-through of pain and suffering. With each riff, each hit on the drum kit and each vomited diabolical phrase, the feeble soul gets more and more excruciated, to finally loose itself in the eternal pandemonium of satanic Black Metal. Again and again those waves smite against the wimpy human soul to finally cleanse its inner spirit from all that is good, so that like on scorched earth a new sprout can set the stage for a new era, an era no longer burdened by the cross of the self-proclaimed holder of the holy truth.
Love, peace and harmony are far away from this band, so are progressive sound-writing, keyboards and clean vocals. The contrast is the case. With roots in bands like Setherial and Dark Funeral, Infernal takes the core elements of their style from them and distills it into a blastbeats loaded piece of aggressive played Black Metal. Like Dark Funeral in their early days or Setherial on Hell Eternal this music offers something for those who are interested in straight and uncompromising piece of Swedish Black Art. In every minute one clearly recognizes that these musicians are capable of what they are doing; listenable through their way of playing the music â€“ speed and technique â€“ but also in the way they have written their songs. Even though not much of variation has been used and the strictly self-limitation to a small facet in the vast Black Metal genre might often be a burden to a band leading to an overwhelmingly self-copying in each songs, Infernal is actually able to bypass this shortcoming and keeping the level in song writing high over the entire album; young bands often fail on this point, because they lack of experience to write songs that catch the listener over a longer period.
Seldom the band leaves the realm the fast played riffs and gives room for a solo or the like. It is indeed surprising that they are used, but they are restricted to a minor role or a neat extra to make the music more interesting and raising it to a core element of it. Matte Modin on the drums really does a great job and uses a lot of breaks and styles so that unlike bands as Setherial the drums are not reduced to some double-bass thing in the background that could also be played by a drum computer, but to a important and dominating part of the entire structure of the songs. The guitars fit well into this category, too, and form the basis of the music with the expected fast played riffs. Surprisingly good are the solos, which appear now and then, especially because they take the enormous speed of the music to an even higher level and contrasting fine the Black Metal thunder which is normally the predominant part of the music. Even though the vocals offer nothing new or any unheard style, they add the music undoubtedly with the right amount of power to give the tracks the last kick. Recorded at the Dugout studio and completed at the famous Abyss studio, the sound of the music is nothing less than excellent and the main reason this album has such power.
Overall the music is really good to listen at, especially if one is fond of aggressive played Black Metal and wants nothing else than a neck breaker piece of music. Even after listening over and over to this album it is not getting boring or the sort, even after all those years that have passed since the record found its way into my collection. Yes, it is somehow very limited and nothing special in particular, but who cares? There are hardly bands out there capable to play such an intense piece of Black Metal. 16:03 minutes are not much â€¦ but enough to get some serious neck injuries.