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An experience beyond comprehension - 92%

mentalendoscopy, August 17th, 2010

"We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far." - H.P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928)

Let me be perfectly clear, few groups in the underground death metal scene would sink so low as to release an album like the one I am currently reviewing, entitled "To the Depths, In Degradation", by the national socialist musical act Infester (1996). Infester's material is dripping in bile and vomit, their members swimming in an ocean of gore located in some distant void far from human comprehension, experiencing some otherworldly form of cognitive dissonance, filled with anger, despair, terror, and joy all at the same time. Although often labeled as a "death metal" band, there are instances of grindcore, doom metal, and (most prominantly) black metal sprinkled throughout as well. Unlike the gore-based lyrical content of many death metal bands, Infester focus on sadism, the occult, pro-racism, and sex, as well as suprisingly gorey demonstrations in what appears to be (although I may be wrong) the band's Nazi agenda.

Death metal bands typically allow the guitars, bass, and drums to speak for themselves as opposed to allowing the listener to decipher them in his/her own way. As well, atmosphere is not often placed in the foreground in death metal. However, Infester are on a totally new level, giving off the feeling of wading through pools of blood and organs in a dark cave, as zombies arise around you (as the album art perfectly depicts). Tracks such as "A Viscidy Slippery Secretion" feature sections which exemplify this with usage of keyboards and doom inspired riffs, often creating a truly disturbing and unsettling atmosphere for the listener, while tracks such as "Clouding of Consciousness" or "Mephetic Echumation" features a faster paced, almost traditional death metal attack, although with the gorey, unearthly evil still intact underneath, awaiting to pounce. Disembodied shreiks ("A Higher Art of Immutable Beauty"), gut-wrenchingly guttural grunts ("Excoriation killz the Bliss"), inhuman gurgles ("Mephetic Echumation"), and otherworldy demonic choirs ("A Viscidy Slippery Secretion") emerge from the background of gore as the towering riffs stare down upon you, devoid of soul and depraved. The riff work is often played at a slower pace, although certain points (1:21 of "Braded into Palsy", for example) deviate from this.

The keyboard work is the most striking feature here, though (underneath the rather insane vocals, no less). Tracks such as "A Viscidy Slippery Secretion", "Braded into Palsy" and "Chamber of Reunion" make extensive use of the keyboards for example, although the death metal exterior is still retained with suprising ease in these parts. Like a depraved bone organ inside a chapel filled with dismembered corpses, the keyboard work adds so much more to the band's sound than other "creepy" death metal bands have acheived in the past (or future, considering the date of this album's release). The vocal work adds alot more though (namely in "A Higher Art of Immutable Beauty"), sounding similar to a demonic entity fronting a death metal band. The style ranges from extremly deep death grunts to extremly high pitched shreiks, similar to the style used in black metal (creepier, though). They annihilate the senses with their purely disturbing omni-presense over the already evil music. The production on this album is perfect, with the vocals often breaking through the production to suprise you ("Chamber of Reunion" being a perfect example of this). The guitar tone especially is staticy as can be, with little in the way of "tone" and more in the way of incomprehensible noise, although that is not a bad thing here. The bass is charred beyond recognition, similar to Mortician's bass tone, although the tone here is quieter and doesn't overtake the sound as it does in many of Mortician's songs. The bass itself is not quite as audible as I would have hoped, although such a distorted bass tone would do little but destroy the essense of all the other instruments as well, so such a move production wise makes sense.

This album is a classic, a must have for any fan of death metal or black metal. It is disgusting, evil, and purely awesome in almost all accounts in the end. It's the embodied opposite of all things "-core" (except for grindcore in certain sections) or trendy in metal, drawing only the true fans, who really care about the music (as opposed to the dance moves said music allows the listener to embaress themselves with). There are no breakdowns, no tech noodling, no pig squeals, just pure, unadulterated, evil.

Highlight track(s):
"Braded into Palsy"
"Excoriation killz the Bliss"
"Chamber of Reunion"