Inquisition - Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith - (9/10)
Published on September 14, 2016
Power from the Center of the Cosmic Black Spiral
Inquisition is band that needs little to no introduction. Whether some one has been following them for years or only heard of them due to some controversy a couple of years back or so, the band has gotten a lot of attention over the years since their formation. Each record has shown improvements, and even if some albums have been similar, the music being done has always been some top notch black metal. 2016 sees the duo releasing their 7th full-length, Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith via Season of Mist. Once again, Dagon and Incubus have created an excellent slab of satanic worshiping black metal, and added more quality to their discography.
One thing that always made Inquisition stand out was the vocal approach and sound of Dagon. It has been a topic of discussion and at times joking from some, but personally, the vocals have always been very different and really interesting. On Bloodshed… though, Dagon’s vocals take a more background approach. They come off as less croaky and just in general seem to be mixed a little lower than the rest of the music. The vocals are a bit deeper as well here, giving the album it’s own voice in the Inquisition catalogue, without taking away a signature of the band. Musically, these two are still solid, and playing some high quality metal. The riffs are varied and interesting. There is plenty of catchiness going on as well, making each track different from the prior, and memorable at the same time. Transitions from one riff to another or just the overall flow of the tracks is excellent, and while there is not much in the way of “soft” material or atmospherics, there is still a lot of underlying melody in the lead work that makes the record feel aggressive and heavy without being devoid of some more tasteful aspects. The pacing of the songs (staying more in the mid-range as the band likes to do) helps as well, allowing the listener to get a grab on everything going on before transitioning into something else.
The drumming is also of note, as one would expect and hope from a two person band. Slow at times but able to go back to blasting away at the drop of a hat, there is plenty of ferocity behind the kit, but again it maintains a solid, steady pace for most of the album, creating just some enjoyable grooving moments and keeping in well with the black metal world. It would be hard to say the guitars on the record steal the show as Inquisition have long been a band that operates with both major musical parts in mind. Where a lot of people love the riffs of Dagon, Incubus has held his own on the band’s output. The strong production does help though as well, making sure that every aspect of both member’s performances are picked up well and get their chances to shine.
Inquisition has been nothing if not consistent over the years. While the production has of course gotten better since their debut, the band has their sound and has been doing it well for almost 20 years (at least from the date of the first full-length). While most of the album have a similar feel or may not really differ much from one another, there is a comforting feeling picking up an Inquisition record, knowing it will be exactly what you expect and want. Riff based, mid paced and strong black metal. Bloodshed… does have a few little things here and there making the record feel slightly different (mostly the vocals being less upfront and “odd”) but generally, this is another strong release from a band that knows what they are doing. Do not expect any major changes in the Inquisition camp for their seventh album, but do expect to have an entirely great experience over the next hour after pressing play. Seven records in and the band is clearly at the top of their game and do not show any signs of slowing down anytime soon. This is one to add to the collection without hesitation.