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Infernö > Utter Hell > Reviews
Infernö - Utter Hell

1996's Greatest? - 92%

Film, January 10th, 2021

Thrash metal is of course known for its abundance of killer riffs, not least from the classic period until 1990/1991. Most if not all bands became altogether defunct or just artistically moribund. During the mid-1990s, then, it was only sensible that younger musicians thought: Why not rearrange some of these killer riffs into our own songs? The Norwegian band Aura Noir pulled off a few "loans" quite masterfully on Black Thrash Attack, and as far as I can tell Infernö followed suit as a side project of them. Aggressor known from Aura Noir (and many other groups) wielded the axe. The other band members I'm less familiar with.

So when the singer bellows "Infernal invasiooooooooon" followed by the main riff from "Bestial Invasion", listeners should only be thankful that someone in 1996 was keeping the legacy alive. Like the medieval scribes who rigorously copied documents of the Greek antiquity, thereby salvaging them from eternal oblivion.

In other words, Infernö had tendencies towards derivation, so to speak, and with a hell of a success at that. Should anyone still harbour criticism, the band rebutted in the liner notes: "To the few who thought we were actually trying to get away with claiming certain riffs and ideas as our own: they were means as "tributes". Look it up, you might learn something". You might learn something, and might be prone to some serious headbanging in the process.

The banging album Utter Hell is overtly German-inspired even beyond the explicit riffstealing (which also includes American riffs such as the verse of "A Lesson in Violence"). The influence already starts showing by having a sampled intro, it flows through the haphazard songwriting and is lastly brandished in the lyrics' cartoonish satanism. The singer would be a perfect fit in early Destruction or Exumer, but is far from a copycat in that he has a fairly original, nasal, snotty delivery.

Take a look at the singer's name, Hazardous Pussy Desecrator, and you get one of several hints that Infernö could give two shits about fair treatment of women. Something that would be fair is to redact points in the album rating. The politically incorrect, misogynistic lyrics of several songs ("Torment Her") can be seen as both clichéd and outdated by several centuries. On the other hand the messages are delivered in an over-the-top way that doesn't beg to be taken serious - not in the slightest.

And as you listen to "Torment Her", suddenly the best part of the album starts flaring up: The break of said song. Amid the urge to immerse yourself in headbanging, air guitar, air double kick drums or what have you, it becomes clear: Utter Hell is the missing link between 1980s German thrash that didn't take itself seriously, and 2000s party thrash.

Gutter hell - 83%

gasmask_colostomy, December 21st, 2018

You'll see a shitload of bands under the name Aggressor every time he pops up here on the Metal Archives. Most famous for his pivotal role in Aura Noir and weirding us all out with Ved Buens Ende and Dødheimsgard, he also has brief stints with Satyricon, Ulver, and Dimmu Borgir under his bullet belt. Inferno wasn't the most serious of the projects he's been involved in, though that doesn't stop him from being joined by former Ved Buens Ende and Virus cohorts Olav Knutsen and Einar Sjursø (both now of Lamented Souls), as well as the former presence of Satyr somewhere among the ranks. Now that's how you get together a fun thrash band!

In any case, on this debut album everyone sounds drunk and lecherous, particularly the one member who doesn't have an extensive CV, a vocalist by the name of Hazardous Pussy Desecrator, which I would say is a bit of a mouthful but I'm afraid that's exactly the point. The reason this is fun thrash and not serious thrash is due to Inferno's chosen themes coming from the Satan and metal, sex and beer category, which gets slightly more niche in Norwegian thrash circles where song titles like 'Satanic Overkill' and 'Necroslut' are much more common than your grandmother thinks. That two songs crop up on Utter Hell called 'Tormentor' and 'Torment Her' tells you about all you need to know. Naturally, a loose sound goes together with loose morals, so the influences of early Destruction and Exodus mingle together with a scuzzy production and the same unwashed feeling as Motorhead's best songs. Bass hangs out the bottom of the mix like cellulite from assless chaps, while the regular screeches of mids-y guitar from Aggressor are both unexpected and painful to witness, almost to the extent of the first simile in this sentence. Since the playing is pretty loose, the vocalist should at least sound as drunk as his bandmates, which Mr H. P. D. (that's a little better) certainly does, yelling straight from the gutter at times and also snarling in a lip-curling, punky manner when he isn't shredding his throat in black 'n' roll style.

Creativity shouldn't be high on such an album, but unless you've forgotten the pedigree of the musicians involved you won't be surprised to learn that Utter Hell has a few tricks up its snot-spattered sleeve. The speed metal that infiltrates classic European thrash takes the complexity out of some riffs (see 'Necroslut' and 'Storming Metal' for a template of exactly what Condor and Nekromantheon would begin doing a decade later) and allows others to get difficult using something I'd call "technical attitude". It's called that because 'Sodom (Burning the Flag)' really didn't need to have a slow muted note played in the middle of its main riff, but it does because the band didn't give a fuck that it sounds ridiculous the first three times you listen to it. Or maybe they knew that the riff would click eventually, maybe on the fifth or sixth listen. However, a lot of the songs reuse the same kind of riff again and again, even down to a very similar rhythm flashing around Aggressor's right hand: this kind of riff sounds great though didn't need to be reused so much, since listening to 'Torment Her' shows just what an astounding development the band can put a single riff through if they want to. That's from 1:10 to 2:14 if anyone is interested in skipping straight to the unfiltered headbanging.

Avoiding generic sounds was the first hurdle for Utter Hell to overcome, since the cast would necessarily have been judged against their other work. I can't say that Inferno completely steer clear of sounding like other groups you'll have heard (Aura Noir, Gehennah, and Nocturnal Breed are obvious comparisons, though this is a little less blackened than all of them), but a point in their favour is that 1996 was early for Scandinavian thrash/black, plus none of those bands ever sounded as punky and drunk as this. I haven't decided whether Mr H. P. D. improves the experience, seeing as it sounds like he’s trying to spit out a rat on some songs: he does bring character to the fold, which is commendable, even if he seems to think he's onstage when he calls out the title of 'Infernal Invasion' like Mille Petrozza has just inserted his voice through the singer's rectum. You've got to have an open mind and several beers - at least - to enjoy Utter Hell as much as its creators, but I don't see anything wrong with cultivating both of those things.