Violence and tyranny and chaos all are crucial elements of black metal, and without that true fury, the music can sound a little thin and heartless. But another thing that is needed to make truly memorable metal (or any type of music, really) is creativity. It can’t be all skullduggery.
Creativity is the first thing that popped into my head when taking on “Desolate Unknown,” the new album from Infera Bruo, the black metal heathens from Boston (a city I have since forgiven for their team decimating my Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals) who not only have a firm grip on savagery but who also keep you guessing compositionally. The seven songs on this record are a total blast from start to finish, and from my first visit with the record, I was instantly hooked. It’s an album that could unite those who chew the bones of metal’s underground-dwelling carcass but even those who are into more accessible bands such as Immortal (especially with the guitar work) and Enslaved. Oh, and they inject a good bit of weirdness and prog tendencies, so throw in some Voivod and Gigan.
The band’s name means “hellish noise” in Esperanto, and that certainly is a fitting description for what they do. They rip your insides out with their thunderstorming melodies, skull-mashing drums, and harsh screams, but I keep coming back to what separates them from the rest. The strange noise and static that spits at you, the spacey weirdness in their programming, the glorious clean vocals that hammer home that prog influence. It all works so ridiculously well together and keeps this record interesting the entire running time. There is no down time. There’s no time to yawn and wander. You’re continuously pulled through twists and turns on this record, and it’s a fascinating little journey.
The band’s members all have their share of musical experiences, some of them vastly different than the metal they play here, and they’re a solid, tight unit. Synth player/programmer Germanicus has been involved with art rock (The Girls) and post-rock experimentation (Cul de Sac) over his storied career, while guitarist/vocalist Galen also plays with hardcore maulers Trap Them (a favorite here at Meat Mead Metal); drummer/vocalist Ardroth plays with death metal unit Shadar Logoth and is the sole member of Bothildir; and bassist/vocalist Neutrino plays with folk-minded black metal unit Encrimson’d. That makes for a lot of ideas coming from many places, and that’s to the benefit of this band.
“Visions of the Inner Eye” is your opener, and you should get an idea right away that you’re in for something completely different. There are hints of early Immortal in this track, and the harsh, throaty vocals give no comfort whatsoever. But the static that slips in, as well as the epic clean vocals, are where the band starts to establish itself as something different and more exciting than the rest. That carries over into “Oblivion,” a damaged, weird, harsh song that burns the black metal rulebook altogether. It sounds like space aliens landing in the middle of a nuclear war, and the band sells the hell out of everything going on here. A brief, wooshy “Segue I” leads into the adventurous epic “Ritual Within,” a 13-minute-plus song that opens curiously with acoustic guitar strains before igniting into a doom-fed flurry of black metal at its most thought-provoking. There are times when the song sounds like early Nachtmystium (speaking of another band disinterested in rules), and through its running time it twists and turns into a new beast every few minutes, from full-on assault to draping clean vocals that sound majestic to strange noise transmissions. Great fucking track.
“Dust of Stars” keeps the intensity on high and pummels you with channeled riffs and more validation of that Voivod comparison. Some of the guitar lines are smeary and sci-fi friendly, the drums do a fine job slapping away at your already-bruised head, and through its 9:26 running time it goes grimy and elegant. The vocals are creaky and evil in spots, monstrous and spacious in others, and the overflow of prog black metal is just a wonder to behold. Another segue cut sets the stage for the mammoth closer “Invoking Collapse,” a 10:39-long punisher that opens with buzzing bass and a bendy melody that seems hellbent on hypnotizing. You get your fair share of bruising and body blows on this one, as well as a commitment to keeping you guessing as the band slips in and out of doom, black metal, and prog sections seamlessly, like they didn’t even have to put any effort into it. My mind’s just blown how well they travel each section of their influences so easily here, how they go from brainy to brawny in the course of a few seconds. It’s a stunning closer, and once the record ends, you might be surprised how quickly these 49 minutes expired.
I absolutely love this record, and as much as I liked their 2011 self-titled debut, “Desolate Unknown” just pushes al the right buttons every step of the way. This band is one of the most exciting units out there in any metal sub-genre, and it would be nice if some label got off their collective asses and signed these guys. Their potential is limitless, and this record is hands down way better than a lot of the stuff I get from major indie metal labels. All hail Infera Bruo, one of the mind-fuckingly intense and ambitious bands out there. Go get this record right now.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/InferaBruo
To buy the album, go here: http://inferabruo.bandcamp.com/