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Infernal Angels - Midwinter blood - 70%

Phuling, March 2nd, 2010

The promosheet described this as epic black metal, and since I was unfamiliar with the band I expected some very atmospheric and moody music, possibly relatively slow and laced with keyboards. Just the feeling I got from such a description. So imagine my surprise when Prologus odii kicks it off with a straightforward, harsh and blasting variant of black metal; not what I was expecting. And frankly, to label it with ‘epic’ just doesn’t seem right. But oh well… As I said I was previously unfamiliar with Infernal Angels, and to be perfectly honest I don’t listen to all that many Italian black acts ‘cause I’m pretty unfamiliar with their scene as a whole.

What’s presented here feels like a mishmash of all sorts of influences, ranging from classic Norwegian and Swedish black metal acts to obscure death metal. It has a certain violent, in your face approach that gets me thinking of Semargl, a blistering straightforwardness that brings Kult Ov Azazel to mind, but also an old school melodic touch that feels somewhat akin to Ragnarok. Some guitar lines and riffing bring Dark Funeral and whatnot to mind, and it feels like I could go on and on with the name dropping. Unfortunately it’s because it feels like I’ve already heard it all before. There’s no sense arguing their competence and such, but it’s relatively stale in many aspects. Not saying an album is necessarily uninteresting because of lack of inventiveness, familiarity has a certain charm as well.

Overall it’s quite melodic and the riffing is filled to the brim with melodic guitar lines. It’s very competent, but as I said they don’t exactly reinvent the wheel. Tempo-wise it only occasionally reaches the blazing speeds, but is mostly set in a somewhat faster mid-tempo. I guess a lot of the drumming qualifies as blasting, but with today’s ultra-fast drummers trying to top each other off all the time Infernal Angels just don’t come off as incredibly fast. They have a couple of moments that are exceptional and extremely hard-hitting; a few of the guitar lines are pure golden. The vocals (just as the riffing at times) flirt heavily with death metal, and despite what variation of scream and growl that’s thrown in the mix it’s all very well delivered. Midwinter blood is a very well produced album, and the only thing bugging me with the sound is the snare drum.

If this album would’ve hit me back in the nineties when I was seriously into Thy Primordial, Sacramentum and such I’m sure it’d be much more satisfying. And for a newcomer to black metal it’ll probably be quite impressive. But for a somewhat seasoned listener it just feels like it lacks identity.

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