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Inferi-or? - 55%

TheDeadEndKing, June 10th, 2019

In terms of band volume, tech-death seems to be as common as thrash in modern times. There's a dozen new ones that pop up weekly. After you've heard X number of them, it not only gets hard to differentiate them, but find things that elevate those bands to the next level. Inferi's name has been tossed around as a "savior" in the genre for awhile now. With tons of high praise, I can safely say I was excited to throw this record on. What I was met with wasn't bad. It just didn't deliver what the hype promised.

"Revenant" isn't necessarily bottom of the barrel. The members are eight shades of technically proficient and then some. Jack Blackburn's drumming in particular is not only commendable, but standout work, with punchy, blitzing speed seamlessly dictating the pace of the album through signature changes and proverbial mood swings. The mix is passable, and what I consider the status quo for tech death albums in today's day and age. The vocals kind of fall flat, and fade out in a lot of cases. There's some interesting symphonic moments that almost lean towards a blackened tone throughout. There's really just nothing new or innovative about this that makes it rise above the pack. If anything, something like this being hyped as it was, and delivering this, is a detriment to it. My expectations were high, and fell far below the mark in most cases.

I'm sure if you're neck deep in the modern tech death world, this is your bread and butter. I can see the pieces of it that would appeal to someone like my preferred listens to do me. Like I said, it's not inherently bad. It's full to brim of wild compositions, spidery, sweeping solos, complex bass lines, the whole nine. I simply feel like most of the hype came from the people who really live and breathe this exact brand of tech death, much like some people gush over black metal that sounds like it's recorded through a boombox. "Revenant" represents the middle of the road of modern metal. It's there, not drawing it in a bad light, but not really pushing it to new and unrealized heights either. There are plenty of other technical bands doing far more these days, and this just couldn't match up with them pound for pound. Therefore, it sits where it does rating-wise. It gets that extra 5% on the end for Blackburn being nuts on that kit.

I would recommend this to the people who eat, breathe, and sleep modern tech death. It's more than likely going to scratch the itch for you. For everyone else, I'm not going to say "DON'T LISTEN", but approach it with a slight bit of apprehension. I'd say it's worth at least one listen to see if it's down your alley or not.

I'm not mad...just disappointed. - 50%

Lord AdGnalDiv, February 2nd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, The Artisan Era

I absolutely loved "The Path of Apotheosis" and so I was understandably hyped for the release of Inferi's follow-up album "Revenant" which made me realize just how brilliant the former truly was... by being a huge disappointment.

Soundwise, this is still very much the Inferi I knew from The Path of Apotheosis (referred to in the following as "PoA"): Very melodic and crazy fast technical death metal with symphonic elements, that rarely take center stage, with multiple impressive guitar solos on every track. However, one shift in lineup is especially jarring and obvious: The departure of vocalist Josh Harrell and bassist/vocalist Nevin O'Hearn.

In my review of PoA I pointed out how the dynamic between the three vocalists made the sound considerably more interesting and easy to listen to and its absence was the first major complaint I had with Revenant. Gone is the vocal trinity of Pugh, Harrell, and O'Hearn and in its place is the high screeching voice of Sam Schneider which, for some goddamn reason, is mixed with so little volume that the vocals always seem to blend into the background. I get that, now that he doesn't sing anymore, Malcolm Pugh as basically the head of Inferi still wants to hear a lot of himself but sacrificing sound structure, just so you can hear your own guitar solos better, is not the way to go. It makes the lyrics even harder to make out than they would've already been and, in my Opinion, defeats the point of having lyrics at all.

While we're at the topic of the guitars: The riffs and solos on Revenant aren't nearly as memorable as those on PoA. Still impressive and they still sound good but they just don't feel relevant or impactful. This is strange to me because the guitarists are still the same as on PoA: Malcolm Pugh and Mike Low. How they managed to go from such genius and memorable melodies on PoA to this generic mess is completely beyond my understanding. Soundwise it's still largely the same though. Fast and melodic, yet brutal and harsh.

Drummer Jack Blackburn still does an amazing job on this one with lightning fast blast beats and impressive fills, but, unfortunately, an excellent drummer can rarely save an overall boring product. As for the bass... you can barely ever hear it so I can't really tell if Joel Schwallier does a better/worse/the same job as Nevin O'Hearn had previously.

The orchestral elements are easily this album's strongest point. I feel like they went a bit further with what they could do with those on this one but, again, it all falls apart because everything sounds the same and not many moments set themselves apart from all the others. I do remember though that the moments I enjoyed the most while listening to Revenant were the times when the music got calmer and the symphonics took center stage. Too bad those are few and far between...

In conclusion, everything on Revenant sounds kinda... samey. Nothing sticks out, nothing impresses, nothing has the impact that certain moments from PoA had (for example the intro of "Those who from the Heavens came" or the choir in "Destroyer"). This Album is a good example of the indistinguishable mass of techdeath I so often criticize. Nothing. Is. Memorable. And because of that, I can't find a lot to say about this album. Its still fast. The solos are still very technical, the drumming is still precise, you still can't hear the bass, the symphonics are still epic, but the product is no longer fun to listen to.

Inferi, Behold The Revenant: Impressive Devotion - 99%

Riven Obyss, July 11th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, The Artisan Era

Inferi was completely unknown to I, but once a site that I regularly inspect for new metal releases gave notice to this release, the rest is history. Inferi have been around for a small amount of time compared to some artists in the genre, but it doesn't mean anything, not in this case. They've released a handful of albums since their creation, and I've heard good things about all previous releases, before Revenant.

Revenant starts off with a true intro track to get the listener to grow with the music; hence the audible and clear rain, thunder, lightning and synths. Then, after a short buildup the song really explodes into life. Immediately one can notice the precision of the guitars and pretty stellar (in my opinion) drums and vocal work. "Within The Dead Horizon" is a fantastic start to this monster of an album, because it never really slows down. The first song should be a clear indication of what this album is and will continue to be with every listen.

After our introduction, the rest of the tracklist hits just as hard, although for a first time metal infantile, this release you may need to avoid for the sake of calm pauses. It has little to offer there. They really wanted to get every piece of energy flowing and practically pouring over the head and skull of the audience. The guitars have this interesting tone and midway boost which I really enjoy, and they are seldom put down in the entire album's runtime. It's not just the guitars that get a chunky and delicious sound, it's also the bass, although the bass is far more underwhelming to the ears in sheer presence than the two axes blazing through the tracklist. The drums are almost exclusively a supporting vessel for the rest of the instruments and that is quite a delicious tactic. It helps give a boost to the instruments in a massive way, for if the drums were any less present, the music could have been weak in expressing it's power.

One thing to point out is that on a first listen, the easiest songs to consume and digest are "Within A Dead Horizon" and "Behold The Bearer of Light", which are also ironically the best songs on the entire album. That's not to say the rest is mindless noodling and wankery- far from it. It's just music so filled to the brim with layers and independent moving parts, it can sound chaotic and incomprehensible to the untrained ear. So, with that said, multiple listens are needed to truly grasp the levels of instrumentation in the overall production.

The vocals are again, done expertly in my humble opinion. They are not the highest pitch, nor are they considered in the low scale by any means. They exist at the middle point of a fry scream, although they do reach some interesting high fry range heaves from the vocalist. The low gutterals that show up less frequently are pleasant to the ears, being violent and angry. Again, not the lowest, but certainly admirable in the grand scheme. In fact, they sound as if another vocalist is semi-inconsistently partaking in this utter symphony of devastating music.

Is it overwhelming? Yes, it can be. Is it intense and angry? Yes, it certainly is. Revenant has become quite a replayed album on any device I have with a music player, including my old tired and weakly funny PS3. It is actually, so far, one of my favorite albums in the last three years. The year is only half done, however, so time will still tell if we get any new releases from the Polish giants Behemoth, or the American based deathgrind band Cattle Decapitation.

My favorite songs on the release:

- "Within The Dead Horizon"
- "A Beckoning Thrall"
- "Behold The Bearer of Light"
(All three are also the most straight forward tracks, yet the rest of the album is still quite fantastic.)

Lead the abominations astray. - 65%

GrizzlyButts, July 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, The Artisan Era

Formed all the way back in 2006 as a technically ambitious fourth-gen melodic death metal band Nashville, Tennessee based Inferi was essentially a showcase for the virtuoso skills of guitarist Malcolm Pugh and drummer Eric Brown. As Inferi became more ambitious Pugh‘s line-up fractured with each release with mixed results. Their first album ‘Divinity in War’ is a nice crossover between 00’s era technical death metal treatment of Scandinavian melodic extreme metal influences. It might not stack up with the bigger picture of the era, with bigger bands like Arsis gobbling up the mind-space, but throughout their discography Inferi have represented a decent middle ground between melodic black/death and brutal technical death metal trends.

Listening to ‘The End of An Era’ today you’d ironically think that particular era never really went away. It’s hyper-sped up, forceful and technical delivery of predictable but fastidious melodic death metal guitar patterns was surely blinding in it’s attack but didn’t amount to more than a mush of wholly average material. That second album, along with ‘The Path of Apotheosis’ were basically the sort of record your guitar teacher makes to impress the 12 year old prodigies that’ll pay the bills. With no real knowledge, or inherent love, of melody the neatly circular guitar work amounts to thrill-a-second scale runs and variations on what are long-considered generic movements. Oddly enough the addition of Chaos Moon/Entheogen drummer Jack Blackburn amplified the severely impersonal feel that carries into ‘Revenant’.

Slap me down quickly if you’re already keyed into the melo-tech death crowd and you actually don’t consider ‘Revenant’ to be too over the top for you. Because I feel the wailing progressive metal tone and rabid black/death symphony of neo-classical severity lead by Pugh’s guitar work has reached an uncomfortably mechanical apex. It is far more of a spectacle than even Fleshgod Apocalypse with orchestrations further bloating the high-speed chaotic blur of Yngwie-worthy fiddling. For all of Pugh and Co.’s shred-happiness ‘Revenant’ lacks in terms of exciting or unexpected riffing and operates within tech-death metal’s common ails of tunnel-vision. Get out of the pocket and give me some variation, please. The rapidly shredded guitar runs might avoid a lot of guitar gimmickry cliches in favor of tremolo picked melodic black/death aesthetics but the downside seems to be that it all gets a little ‘double-speed Dimmu Borgir‘-ish at times.

Though I take issue with the soulless nature of these compositions performed at impossibly flat speeds, there are a few standout moments. I think the one track on here that really begs to be listened to is “Through the Depths” as the solos from Arsis guitarist James Malone are impeccably done, outshining much of the rest of the overworked soloing on ‘Revenant’. “Behold the Bearer of Light” is also quite impressive, perhaps only because it slowed down it’s impulse and dug a little deeper for a grandeur-cranked exit. I might seem down on Inferi in general but I want to at least give the impression of high standards within the mix of melo-tech death and see bands push out more tasteful, varied records that don’t become an extreme metal blender full of grey butt-mess. ‘Revenant’ comes close to greying Inferi back into the middle of the pack but I think it is an improvement over the album before it and it’s spectacle is enough entertainment for a handful of listens.


Gets better as it goes - 87%

Mailman__, April 22nd, 2018

Inferi's long-awaited fourth full-length album is finally here - via an early stream from Metal Injection.  Thank God for that; I don't think I could've waited four more days.

It's been four years since The Path to Apotheosis, and, I don't know about everyone else, but I was starting to wonder what the hell these guys were doing.  It wasn't until I noticed they were going on tour with Alterbeast when I suspected something.  Then I actually read the description of their 2017 pre-production single "Within the Dead Horizon" on Bandcamp and noticed that it said "a single from their upcoming full-length album."  Wow, who would've thought that reading pays off, right?

So the album starts out with that very single I just mentioned, and it sounds a lot better than the pre-production version (no kidding).  The singles for this album were the first two tracks and the last track.  This sounds like a pretty solid structure if the best two songs are the first and last on the tracklist, but that leaves the entire middle of the album a gaping hole.  What could lie in this hole?  Symphonic melodies and shredding solos?  Wanky guitars and blastbeats?  A combination of the two?

It's pretty much a combination.  Inferi has never been a band to step outside of the box of guitar wankery.  I mean Malcolm Pugh is in the band for Christ's sake.  He's, like, a king of wank.  Despite the negative connotation of "guitar wankery," Inferi has always been a band to utilize it instead of abuse it.  However, it does get old after a few tracks.  It isn't until track three that the listener gets a breather.  "A Beckoning Thrall" starts with a symphonic intro that, after a minute or so, gets tied in with the guitar, something Inferi has always done quite well.  In fact, it is clear on this song that Inferi have mastered this trait to their music.

Like The Path to Apotheosis, this album is pretty much a shred-fest, providing the listener with destructive drums, heavy guitar, and bass that doesn't stick to mimicking the guitar, even having some solos in "Condemned Assailant."  Every song on here has these same features, which is cool, but it also causes every track to sound the same.  It takes a lot of listens to be able to identify different tracks on here, a problem that The Path to Apotheosis didn't have.  A lot of the riffs on Revenant have the same structure.  It's that melo-death structure that is very common among bands like Alterbeast and The Black Dahlia Murder.  That isn't to say that the music sounds bad, but it's not like it makes it any easier to identify individual tracks within the album.  There are defining moments in the songs like the symphonic parts of the first track, every aspect of "Thy Menacing Gaze," and the emotional outro of "Through the Depths."

Despite this, the last several tracks get better when it comes to definition.  "Thy Menacing Gaze" comes out of the blue with punishing riffs and solos that are mostly outside of the box.  After this, "Malevolent Sanction" gives the listener eight minutes of epic guitar solos, riffs, and acoustic guitar breaks.  "Smolder in the Ash" and "Behold the Bearer of Light" are both collections off heavy riff after heavy riff.  Both of these tracks provide a perfect way to end the album.

This is a good release.  It's melodic and technical, and it's one of those albums that gets better as you listen to it.  Despite a cacophony of technicality spanning from the middle of track two through track five, the album has a lot of redeeming factors, a.k.a. the last four tracks.  It isn't better than their 2014 album, but it isn't bad.

Overall Rating: 87%

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