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Was Not Expecting That - 87%

TheStormIRide, October 20th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Pest Productions (Digipak)

Formed in 1999, Inferno Requiem is a Taiwanese black metal project performed solely by an artist named Fog. The band was initially active through 2011, dropping a handful of releases with 2007’s debut full length, 幽冥夜怪話 (Gloomy Night Stories), being the last of the bunch before the project went on hiatus. Inferno Requiem was resurrected in 2015 and Fog quickly began putting out new material, with a single and EP released in 2016. Well into 2017, Inferno Requiem has unleashed the project’s second full length album, 女媧 (Nüwa); a nearly fifty-two minute opus of finely crafted black metal.

Though Inferno Requiem clearly borrows a lot of the hallmarks of the Scandinavian second wave, the songwriting is somewhat refreshing and almost alien at times. That’s not to say that the band’s sound is some vapidly atmospheric, space metal hum-drudgery, because this clearly shoots for chaotically charged, gloom-ridden black metal; it’s just that the songwriting offers something vastly different than what most black metal listeners are used to. That being said, the album generally flows forward with a vast array of fiery tremolo riffing, succinctly weaving lofty melodies amid a foundation of driving, chaotic black metal. Where things are shaken up, mostly, are with the tempo changes that are located throughout the entire album. Fog’s ability to switch gears from headfirst charging into something more atmospherically charged, almost post-black driven, and back again without losing any steam is quite commendable.

Despite the near-constant use of melodic, evocative trem riffing, 女媧 (Nüwa), remains raw at it’s heart. The guitars are highly distorted, sounding almost windy at times, while the bass and drums create a writhing backdrop. The drum performance is quite spectacular, but not in the technical or jaw dropping way, rather the rhythms are not quite what you’d expect from raw-ish black metal. Sure there’s a load of rangy double bass runs and the occasional blast, but the fills and general approach to the rhythms are intriguing, almost defiantly going against what has come to be the standard; yet for all it’s bluster and off-kilter strangeness, it works quite well. The vocals are rather unhinged, sounding like a grand amalgamation of black metal shrieking and vomiting death metal growls.

Inferno Requiem’s sound pays homage to the second wave, yet 女媧 (Nüwa) refrains from being just another clone that will get lost in the shuffle. This album is dense, raw, and chaotic, yet repeated listens unveil the grandeur of Fog’s riffing and the trance-inducing quality of the songwriting. At just shy of fifty-two minutes, this is an especially long album for such a raw and chaotic sound, yet it somehow works. This album is a grower, as it took several spins to feel it out, yet every new listen unveiled another piece of the band’s foundation. Fans of rather raw second wave worship (Judas Iscariot comes to mind) should enjoy this, but fair weather black metal fans might want to steer clear because this is probably a bit too rough around the edges for you.

Written for The Metal Observer.