Self Released 2012
1.A Prayer For Cleansing 2.Malevolence Of Our Lord
3.Sermon Of The Augur 4.Catastrophic Reprisals 5.Condemned To Psychosis
6.The Gathering 7.Ritual Incantation
No grandiose, over the top or lengthy intros here, ‘A Prayer For Cleansing’ rips open from the outset in a hail of harsh yet melodic black metal nastiness. There’s a real intricacy to the bands guitar work which is death metal at its core but with a massive dose of black metal added in for good measure. There are very heaving leanings towards a Dissection influenced sound, but what sets the band apart from the Swedish masters of blackened death metal are the vocals, being more scathing, more black metal in their delivery, harsh high pitched screaming preferred. There is also real catchiness to the guitar work, which showcases an added slice of groove that gives some of the riffs a slightly more death metal sound, but which never wandering too far from the black metal sound either. As ‘Malevolence of Our Lord’ blasts open, the Dissection influence is once again very apparent; the opening riffs could have almost been taken from ‘Storm of the Lights Bane’. Not to suggest the band are copying that masterpiece, merely paying homage to it in their own way. The drumming stands out as particularly effective here, blasting along at a hell of a pace. The double kicks really pummelling and adding to the songs brutality, enhancing its overall effectiveness. The track does however take its own original path, the bands own style opening up and really beginning to show their talent off perfectly. Ending with more ‘Dissection Worship’ this proves to be an outstanding track.
‘Sermon of the Augur’ is a relatively short interlude track; acoustic guitars are used and accompanied by eerie, almost industrial samples and soundtracks, which to be honest only acts as a filler and the samples are really high pitched and annoying and somewhat unessacery. Leaving the acoustic guitars to their own devices would have been a much more attractive and more listenable approach. ‘Catastrophic Reprisals’ returns to the vicious blackened death metal, and what an excellent return it is. The sense of urgency has returned, as have the blast beats and full on extreme metal attack, brutal yet catchy blackened death metal played outstandingly. This is definitely the most original sounding track so far, the bands song writing skills and talent fully evident, showcasing the fact that every band member is more than capable of handling their instruments superbly and as ‘Condemned To Psychosis’ bursts forth furiously, there’s no let-up in the extremity on offer. There’s more of the same again, scathing and scornful with melody added to really make the songs burst to life. Again, it’s another extremely brutal track, blast beats ravage the song from start to finish, which at only 2:53 proves to be a very short sharp and precise piece of music. ‘The Gathering’ is similar to ‘Sermon of the Augur’, being a short interlude of eerie samples, with slightly growled vocals sweeping back and forth in the dense atmosphere being stirred, almost sounding like something Nile would compose and add to an album as an intro of filler. It is what it is, an interlude. Closing this e.p. is
‘Ritual Incantation’ and what a way to finish things off! By far the best track on this release, the guitar riffs being very ‘Swedish death/black metal’ in composition, with lots on melodic tremolo picking. The track is extremely epic, extremely black metal and really brutal. It offers everything you need from extreme metal and is very ‘listenable’ indeed. A slightly new approach is taken a few minutes into the fourteen minute monster, the track slowing right down with acoustic guitars and cleanly sung, chant like vocals taking over the track completely. It’s actually a good change in direction, offering the listener something different to all of the other tracks. As the acoustic guitars drop out, the chanting vocals and ‘wave/water samples’ are left to their own devices to end the track (for what seems like an eternity). 'There are only so many waves crashing you can listen to, but I kind of get why they left them running for so long, to keep the brooding and creepy atmosphere going for as long as possible. One point that really should be brought to your attention is the packaging, which is absolutely stunning! Hand bound luxury cardboard booklet which includes several pages of amazing, mediaeval artwork. A lot of (probably costly) effort has been put into the presentation, which really deserves top marks alone. Musically there’s no real faulting the band either, fans of Scandinavian inspired death black metal will love this as it ticks all the right boxes and fans of Dissection will certainly get where the band are coming from. The guitars were a little low in the mix meaning the songs became very drum/vocal heavy at times, but it’s a minor niggle. Overall, The Infernal Sea has produced an excellent e.p. which comes well recommended, if not for the excellent music, but also for the great packaging!
8 out of 10