Infernum - _Farewell_
(No Colours, 2004)
by: T. DePalma (10 out of 10)
Rob Darken and Capricornus reunite in this long dormant project to produce the follow-up to the cult _Taur-Nu-Fuin_ album. What is actually on record here is the final form of Infernum material first demoed on cassette in 1996, bootlegged but never officially released.

A brief recounting:

The Polish black metal group Infernum was formed in 1992 by vocalist / guitarist Karcharoth (Anextiomarus). Having two demo tapes turned out within the subsequent year, Karcharoth joined Graveland and released Infernum's debut record with Darken on keys and Capricornus on drums. Thus, the two groups became merged, with Infernum's sound exploring the trio's cosmology through a more relaxed idiom of pulsing ambience and rough, but more attentive musicianship.

Some time later the group disbanded, rather heatedly. Though the narrative has been one-sided, it is generally accepted that Karcharoth became an informant to the Polish authorities who were exerting pressure on various individuals connected with black metal groups and nationalist ideologies. Dudgeon explanations came from Darken -- Karcharoth had been institutionalized, became a "Hare Krishna". But between the full length and the split, Infernum recorded a demo of three news songs sans vocals, sans keys, which has since been circulating among traders. Titled "When the Light Has Died", the future of this hopeful material still remained trapped within the brume.

In 2002, Karcharoth reformed Infernum with a new cast of musicians. Two years later he killed himself (that terminus giving at least a partial validation of his ex-band mate's statements). In 2004 the band posthumously released a full-length entitled _The Curse _ and, seemingly undaunted, the remaining members claimed that "all old albums will be released by Infernum and they will be dedicated to Anextiomarus, including _When the Light Has Died_ with his voices".

"...with his voices"...

Since only Capricornus has stated anything publicly (and not very recently), dubbing this latest release finished and performed by Darken and himself as the "true" Infernum, and claiming that the other Infernum had sent warnings to No-Colours regarding the copyrights, I don't know what to make of it. Rather, I don't care. It's not my headache after all, but to listen to _Farewell_ is to be reminded that so much of the music consumed today resembles debris, rather than an explosion.

This release and surrounding affair (even in its minuscule dramatic state) should contextualize things clearly. There is absolutely nothing occurring today. By occurring I mean transcending -- specifically in the spirit of the early to mid-Nineties; the tempest which these songs emerge from. This has nothing to do with some elitist bullshit, because that term has been drained of all its logic thanks to our underground salesman. It's plainly the way things are. Bands come; louder, faster, more spikes, old-school, "sounds like". Music exists without change; it hovers in the air. The trend is a periodical breeze -- random, accidental. Some of it, I enjoy. Much of it is ephemeral. Currently there are groups attempting something different, but the majority amounts to dispersion created from the preceding waves; a failing that could be partially due to the fact that the genre is self-limiting. And any further change may require transporting its idealism into a new armor, metamorphosing beyond black metal, which in itself represents the final stage of a multitude. That is task that I think few would be willing to accept, even if such adventurers existed for certain. Onto the music...

All five of these tracks follow in the same mold as the first album's more mid-paced, breathing pieces like "Gammadion" and "Weltmacht Order Nidergang". Songs are structured around guitar's relaxed tremolo picking, which gives the music its folkish accent, creating epic billows that wash over the constant throttling of drums, orbiting under a halo of keys. Capricornus does a decent job with vocals, which are more like garnish on the actual music, and that feels like the best course.

It's worth noting that while the production is probably completely different from what it would have been nine years ago, being much more full and polished sounding, it still provides a lucid picture of how far above the curb this band was in their writing and how little compares with it today. As to how they stack up in relation to other groups affiliated with the players, the best of the five, "Before the Lock of Twilight" and "Hisarna", are less percussive than Lord Wind's _Heralds of Fight_ and more balanced and stylish than anything currently coming from Graveland. A song like "Inverted Prayer" sounds on par with _Thousand Swords_ with its marching chord slashes, but the excellent use of both clean and distorted guitars re-establish the intent of the project as a separate avenue for the obscure.

If the other Infernum continues to bluff with some alternative version of these tracks it will provide intrigue and eventually maybe even satisfy curiosity, but it would still be hard or impossible to answer this translation of revenant poetry.


(article published 31/3/2005)

7/10/2006 N Shahpazov 8 Infernum - The Curse
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