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Smudges of surreal lethality - 83%

autothrall, November 20th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Bindrune Recordings (Digipak)

One of the hazards of a band peaking so early in their career is that you'll be blown away by the debut or sophomore and then struggle to find that same connection on subsequent records. Massachusetts' Infera Bruo, who put out a really astonishing s/t debut demo, and then a great full-length followup in Desolate Unknown, largely manage to avoid that pitfall by offering a slab of more matured and consistent sounding material. This is at once a more evil sounding effort in spots, with some spacious and cavernous sequences that contrast against the blasting surge, and a seasoned songwriting exhibition in which a band fully capable of flying off the handle exercise quite a lot of restraint and balance between the interlocking instruments and the pacing of various tracks.

The mid range clean vocals that helped round out the previous album are returned here, with arguably even more personality, even though they're still in the minority; if you're into the similar approach taken by bands like Enslaved, Arcturus and Borknagar, you're going to feel right at home since they so seamlessly switch lanes with the snarl, not feeling forced or intrusive. There's also an increased use of more jangly, interesting guitar passages which interspersed with the metric ton of traditional, melodic tremolo picking that dominates a huge chunk of the material. In Conjuration is replete with peaks and valleys of aggression, often steering away from its black metal busyness for simpler chord patterns that are splayed out and 'felt out' over more spacious percussion. These pace changes are timed well enough across the 47 minutes that it helps a lot to ground some of the longer tunes and give them a real sense of consistency rather than growing ennui that a lot of black metal bands can suffer from due to pretentious bloat. The bass and drums here are also the best mixed yet alongside the guitars, subdued enough to allow the riffs the razor edge they so often crave.

The raw speed and technicality of the rhythm guitars is about the same level as the influences, which for me really seemed to hover in that Norse camp like Immortal or Satyricon in their primes. An emphasis is not on pure catchiness so much as a cutting finesse and lots of interesting detail that the listener can discern with future spins of the disc. Again, I don't know if it's just the pure production capabilities of the underground these days via technology, but Infera Bruo sounds as confident and sophisticated, if not more so than many European bands with 20-25 years behind them. The choices in notation are not always obvious, and steer slightly further away from accessibility than either of the earlier works. Ironically, I came away from this slightly less blown away, but we're talking a mere sliver below Desolate Unknown, and I would still struggle to come up with a New England band in this style that I enjoy more right now; Vattnet Viskar has achieved more popularity, but I'm not a big fan...this is just so much more dynamic, vicious and memorable. Good on Bindrune for picking them up, they are building quite a roster. Can't recommend it enough, and it's all here: the chops, the intensity, the artistry. Attention paid, now paying forward. Check them out.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

North Eastern Radiance - 91%

TheStormIRide, July 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Bindrune Recordings (Digipak)

When most think of atmospheric black metal in the United States, the Cascadian scene is immediately mentioned. It’s really no surprise, considering the Cascadian scene has spawned acts like Wolves in the Throne Room, Weakling, Ash Borer and Agalloch. Despite the general regard the northwestern part of the United States receives in the atmospheric black metal community, the country’s northeastern reaches of New England have been steadily pumping out new blood in the genre. Hailing from Boston, Infera Bruo is one such band taking things in an interesting and exciting direction.

While the band’s base style is somewhere in the region of atmospheric and progressive black metal, the band’s widely varied approach brings an engaging listen. To get an idea of what the band sounds like, imagine a grand mash up of the flowing grandeur of atmospheric black metal, the fiery blasts of the second wave scene, the far reaching progressive touches of Isa and Ruun era Enslaved and a tiny spattering of breathy post-metal. Despite Infera Bruo’s sound being a grand amalgamation of sorts, In Conjuration, the band’s sophomore full length album, is a seamless testament to their creative songwriting craft. The band just refuses to stand still or get too comfortable during the forty-seven minute album.

Rangy, melodic trem riffing builds into primal, infectious power chords which turns into picked minor key patterns and back again. Sweeping atmospherics move towards second wave histrionics then into dissonant and jarring patterns, but it’s never linear. The drums fire away, switching from rollicking double kicks and blasts into a slow paced crawl at the drop of a dime. Frantic mid-range screams serve as vocals for the majority of the album, but there are a few clean, chanted sections woven throughout, for a touch of variety. Despite the constant motion, Infera Bruo’s music is seamless, steadfastly moving through the album in anything but a straight forward fashion.

In Conjuration shows the band as much stronger and more confident than their debut offering. Where many progressive and atmospheric black metal albums take their good old time to open up, Infera Bruo’s sophomore album is immediately enjoyable. Multiple listens will continue to unveil individual nuances, just like those growers, but there’s something about the songwriting here that is to be applauded. The free handed approach to their songwriting allows for an album that is varied yet refuses to be disjointed and remains engaging throughout. Atmospheric, progressive and unwavering, In Conjuration shows Infera Bruo as one of the strongest acts of the year.

Written for The Metal Observer.