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Repeated brilliance: Not an easy task - 94%

stefan86, September 7th, 2012

Infinitum's debut "Behold Eradication" is a hidden gem that I've considered one of my favorite death metal albums for quite some time. In many ways the band is Suffocation with an added dose of intelligence. They preserve the brutality of the mutes and stops of an album like "Pierced From Within" while adding layer of melody and smart songwriting beyond the back alley beating that is the sound scape of their main influence. It's just something beyond the ordinary in terms of combining different aspects of the genre.

To write a follow up worthy of the predecessor is definitely a challenge in this case, especially considering the legendary second album curse. The cynic in me kept imagining them dropping the ball, something that made me even more pleasantly surprised when "The Sixth Extinction" arrived. Another thing to factor in is my new found aversion toward most technical and brutal death metal. The explosion of similar sounding bands mainly doing a theory exercise accompanied by constant blastbeats has gotten to the point where seeming extremity just blurs into white noise.

Infinitum, however, just tears down those walls. The album really oozes with power and dynamics, despite mostly utilizing familiar genre strategies. The main news are the moments of atmospheric depth presented by the clean guitar parts. It's an extra twist that fits very well with the rest of the music. In many it further moves it away from becoming a constant blastbeat fest. The album also sounds very professional in terms of production, a fact that should give Infinitum an even greater chance to reach their well deserved audience. "Behold Eradication" didn't quite have the sound quality to match the musical skill at hand, so I'm glad they took care of that part this time. The vocal performance has also improved, as the growls are deeper and more audible than before. While I'm certain that the vocalist will always play a back seat role to the brilliant guitars in this band, it's still nice to have a solid growl delivering the meaty hooks.

So how about some musical analysis? Opener "From The Cradle To A Plague" starts out with the mentioned clean guitar layers before gradually growing into a blasting death metal song. On its way to the brutal verses it travels through sections of quality gallop riffs and semi melodic tremolo sections that are all weaved together intricately and fluently. Nothing seems out of place no matter the extravagance. Their signature sound from the debut remains prominent, as the focus is a vortex of infectious riffs and musical twists. In many ways they've preserved exactly what made their first album so special: The technical riffs and seemingly crazy tempo changes flow together naturally, a task not many can achieve. It never relies on spitting out notes like a jammed cannon.

Overall, the tempo shifts and dynamics are what allows the songs to be so successful. Don't be fooled, there are many moments of blazing extremity. The trick is to make them feel extreme through use of dynamic shifts. By carefully utilizing slower muted riffs, semi melody and clean guitars the fast parts feel truly brutal. Stupid buzzword, I know. This time it's actually used in a proper context. As for variation between the songs, "Regurgitating The Core", "With Expansion Comes Expulsion" and "Vexing The Progenitor" displays their more savage side. "From The Cradle To A Plague", "The Great Dying" and "To His Undoing" however, have a lot of melody and atmospheric sections.

Album closer "To His Undoing" is truly a crowning achievement so far for this band. The melody layers never disturb the urgency of the death metal assault, and the song still almost winds up feeling epic and sorrowful. Imagine being able to combine that with savage riffing worthy of genre competitors like Blood Red Throne or Hour of Penance? In many ways the only proper reference point I can find is Immolation. I'm starting to feel that this review is getting out control and into blind worship territory, therefor I should simply stop. I'll say this though: Get your hands on this album, you won't regret it!