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One-man black metal projects rarely showcase as qualified handling of instruments as Infestus does here on his third full-length Ex | Ist, a majestic opus of atmospheric black metal executed in a bright, massive soundscape, thematically revolving around inner turmoil which is successfully put to practice in these long compositions where desperation meets anger. This all forms a very professional sounding and endurable whole though the album does have its flaws as well.
The instrumental ”Akoasma” begins the journey, shifting from double bass frenzies to portentous acoustic guitars and solos, following closely the footsteps of Shining. Next up is ”Down Spiral Personification” which is more evidently black metal but with a good dose of fitting melody therein, making it a highlight of the album. ”Darkness Blazing the Flame of Fire” crawls with moderate speed and murky riffs until it explodes to blast beats and vicious tremolo riffs like the track before it, the same applying to ”Mirror Mind Reality” and basically the rest of the album. That is not to say that the songs repeat themselves, no, every track here incorporates multiple interesting sections within their long playing times, ensuring wholly enjoyable rides through varying tempos and moods.
During the last two pieces, ”Der Blick Hinaus” and ”Descend Direction Void”, a plenty of acoustic sections are added to the middle of the metal, working exceptionally well on the latter, doom-driven song that ends the album with reverb-laden repeated acoustic pattern. Not to be forgotten, either, is the album’s short centerpiece ”Torn Obsever” which is filled with pulsating rhythms and melodies reeking of dissonant evil.
Not all riffs on the long course of Ex | Ist truly stand out with splendor, but when looking at the big picture, there’s no way calling the album a failed attempt at proper black metal darkness. Once again it must be stated that it’s impressive how good sounding whole has mere one man created here - it’s apparent that this album has been a long time in the making. A recommended album if you’re into not-that-traditional black metal and seek for fresher ideas and good productions sound-wise.
3.5 / 5
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E x | I s t is a rather staggering effort when one takes into account the fact that it's the work of a single man, Andras. Not like the advent of the one man black metal entity is new to Europe (they started it), but few such projects have such a massive, swelling sound as this one that shows such a rapt attention to the detail of each instrument. Infestus have released two albums in the past, but neither was cast at this level of spacious immersion, an affront to the very notion of hope and happiness, seeking to suck the light of day unto itself and drown it in the all invasive gloom. There's also a notable amount of variation through the seven tracks, ranging from periods of peak, enveloping atmosphere to straight rushes of thickly adorned, straightforward German black metal.
The considerable opener "Akoasma" builds anticipation with its trailing, haunted melodies and whispered, implied heresy, metered by a rock like drum beat that inevitably thunders into a double bass segment; but the real storm surges forward in "Down Spiral Depersonification", a piece that rambles through faster and slower segments while the backing guitars filter through the surrounding carapace of sound like motes of gray dust. "Darkness Blazing in the Flame of Fire" and "Mirror Mind Reality" seek to further the forward thrust of the album's more traditional metallic aesthetics, both clocking in around 9 minutes, but neither is allowed to saunter about for too long without some dynamic shifting that re-asserts the creative awning of despair flooded melody. Also of interest would be the thundering, majestic mid point "Torn Observer" and its chugged ballast; and "Der Blick Hianus" and its sorrow-struck, clean intro.
Despite the obvious competence of Andras across numerous instruments, this is another of those black metal artists who place emphasis on the overall cohesion and mood of the album above the individual riffing. That's not to imply a dearth of intricacy, because there are always numerous channels of sadness and spite being directed through the course of its dictation; but this is not an album you will listen to if you're interesting in some blazing, enthusiastic guitar line. E x | I s t wants its audience to stand back and assimilate its entirety, its peaks and valleys of tempo and emotionally draining weight. I've read that the concept of this album is rooted in schizophrenic interpretations of a disturbed individual, and you can hear this in the varied tumult of the tracks' pacing. If you're fond of atmospheric German black metal like Thorngoth or Geist, then this album is easily enough recommended for examination, because the effort shines (or rather deadens) through.