Friday, May 6, 2011

Infestus - E x | I s t

E x | I s t
Debemur Morti Productions

On the two previous full-length efforts (2004’s ‘Worshiping Times Of Old’ and 2008’s ‘Chroniken Des Ablebens’), I felt that while German black metal Infestus have shown some moments of promise, they hadn’t yet quite managed to make an album that retained a sense of consistency and truly engage the listener completely from start to finish.
Now returning with their third full-length effort ‘E x | I s t’, Infestus is primarily comprised of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Andras following the departure of vocalist Dagon in late 2010.
In a lot of ways, Andras has been allowed a lot of freedom to do as he wishes on ‘E x | I s t’, without having to compromise on his ideas and overall vision with other members within the group. That singular vision and execution that shines throughout ‘E x | I s t’, and duly marks the album out as Infestus’ strongest release to date.
Based on Andras’ own personal demons, ‘E x | I s t’ is a grim and torturous slab of experimental black metal. But outside its harsh exterior, ‘E x | I s t’ reveals a more structured and thought out musical landscape than any of the band’s former releases, and that definitely works in their favour.
The opening track ‘Akoasma’ is primarily an instrumental scene setting piece that starts out with gentle/haunting ambient keyboards, before being pushed aside from the oncoming onslaught of unrelenting drums and a wall of guitars. While the early indicators suggest that the song will remain on the heavier side of the spectrum to begin with, the instruments do gently fade in/fade out in places, which make way for a distinct sense of melody and dynamics.
‘Down Spiral Depersonification’ sees Infestus get down to the sound many will be familiar with, and that’s cold and grim sounding black metal (Both musically and vocally), with just enough melody to keep the listener on their toes. At a little over eight minutes (Which is the case for most of the tracks on the album), the song is long. But despite this, Andras manages to throw in enough twists and turns to make it feel like a journey from one distant point to another.
The use of acoustic guitars within ‘Darkness Blazing In The Flame Of Fire’ is an interesting addition to what is essentially an intense and harrowing journey from start to finish, while the fast paced ‘Mirror Mind Reality’ is the centrepiece of the album, both in terms of its intensity and its complex construction of many differing layers.
The strong rhythmic groove underpinning within ‘Torn Observer’ is as catchy as it is cold, while the use of acoustic guitars and piano in the ravaged ‘Der Blick Hinaus’ and the closer ‘Descend Direction Void’ adds a distinctly human aspect to the cold atmospherics of black metal.
‘E x | I s t’ isn’t the sort of album that can be listened to in pieces. To truly appreciate this album, you have to listen to it as a whole. And it’s only then, you’ll truly understand just how majestic ‘E x | I s t’ is, and just how much despair Andras has put into Infestus’ finest effort.

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© Justin Donnelly