Inferi - Revenant - (7/10)
Published on April 14, 2018
Genre:Melodic Death / Technical Heavy Metal / Symphonic Progressive Metal
Label:The Artisan Era
Formed in 2006, Inferi was born in the metal underground of Nashville, TN. Perhaps not the city most equate with head banging, moshing, and air guitar, the band eschewed stereotypes and preconceptions by churning out its own cerebral take on melodic/technical death metal. Now, 12 years later, and many lineup changes since, the band is set on the precipice to take the trophy for the band most likely to frighten youth away from learning an instrument.
Listening to Revenant, one cannot help but become lost in the weeds of so many different layers of musical ideas, riffs, and sections. The first track, “Within the Dead Horizon,” is a mission statement of sorts as it introduces the über technical sound of the band as a complete assault on the senses replete with vocals that sound as if Chuck Schuldiner was trying to sing in the style of black metal. Beginning with an enthralling bass and guitar intro, “Condemned Assailant,” at least for this reviewer, has a vibe similar to avant garde black metal in the style of Dodheimsgard or Solefald with its liberal use of symphonic keyboards to shift the rhythm, tempo, and key in which the song is being played. One cannot help but wonder why there isn’t a credit for keyboard player provided when the musician is clearly such an integral part of the band’s sound. The latter half of the fourth track, “Through the Depths” really shows Inferi at their best, a unified front toward a single melodic goal, punishing in execution with an outro haunting in its harmonies. The album highlight is clearly the last track, “Behold the Bearer of Light,” for the band sounds the most focused, and one cannot help but enjoy the super-tight picking executed at the 2:45 mark.
Inferi create metal that truly demands a lot of the listener. First, a healthy volume must be maintained in order to fully appreciate all that is going on. This is because the highlights on the album are found in small-bite chunks, including the way the bass will play three beats ahead of the next section to introduce the following idea or the rare times when the band commit to a unifying focus on a stellar riff. Speaking of the bass, perhaps the most enjoyable part of the album personally was listening to the central role the low-end plays in the framing of musical ideas, often playing counter melodies to those provided by the guitar, and all the while with sufficient mid-range frequency to push it into the forefront of the listening spectrum. The way the album is so heavily orchestrated by keyboards certainly evokes bands of the symphonic spectrum of black metal (Limbonic Art) and even power metal (Rhapsody) more so than anything from the melodic death metal scene.
Inferi have produced a sound that is melodic death metal in scope and technical death metal in execution. Often, the album sounds cramped, congested. One cannot help but wonder what Chuck Schuldiner would have thought of this. It’s easy to get lost in the sound for if concentrating too hard on one aspect, one may lose out on something else. All of one’s attention is clearly required. The effect this has at times is like having multiple YouTube windows up at the same volume on your desktop with all vying for your attention. It’s admirable the amount of talent and thought behind this album, but it isn’t a sound for everyone. While many will sing praises of its immense layering of musical ideas, others will feel that it’s simply overkill. After listening to Revenant in its entirety, one cannot help but crave the more primal fare of Dismember or Autopsy. It’s all a matter of taste, really.