By Matty Hume, April 26 2018 —
Goodbye winter, hello technical death metal.
Awakening from the grimdark depths of Nashville, Tennessee, the viciously talented quintet known as Inferi has delivered what may be the most impressive display of unabated talent in melodic metal with Revenant — an hour of unrelenting thrash, symphonic movements and a double-kick-drum barrage.
Barely a minute into opener “Within the Dead Horizon,” your ticket for an adventure as an ironclad doomslayer is punched and irrevocable. Jack Blackburn’s ceaseless percussion, along with Joel Scwallier’s bass, drives the quest forward through diverse time signatures and tempos with jaw dropping precision. Six-string warriors Malcolm Pugh and Mike Low leave annihilation in their wake on the sonic battlefield beneath the guttural howls of their banshee, Sam Schneider.
The organ- and choir-riddled introductions of “A Beckoning Thrall” provides a haunting change of pace to the tireless speed of Revenant. If it’s even possible for a ballad to exist in whatever layer of ancient Lovecraftian Hell from which Inferi receives their technical skill, “Thy Menacing Gaze” is as close as it gets. Despite consistent pace in percussion and shreds, an underlying melody from orchestral instrumentation keeps the track discernibly grounded.
Revenant continues with the leviathan escapade that is “Malevolent Sanction.” At just shy of nine minutes, the track is an excellent distillation of Inferi’s technical abilities as brilliant musicians and masterful songwriters. The band delivers the song’s movements with a clarity and meticulousness that puts your dad’s prog-rock collection to shame. As a choir fades out, “Smolder in the Ash” begins with a standout display of melodic arrangement — a piano providing rhythm behind the two-guitar delivery of dense polyphonic textures — reminiscent of Baroque and Renaissance compositions.
“Behold the Bearer of Light” brings Revenant to a fitting close, maintaining the complexity of the album while adding a layer of vocal talent from The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad to the epic conclusion.
Look, I get it. Technical death metal isn’t exactly an easy sell if you’re not already a champion of the full-back patch. But the incredible musicianship present in metal’s subgenres deserves 666 praises for every solitary scoff. Revenant sets the new standard for melodic songwriting and is a record worth having on the shelf and revisiting with frequency. It’s real good, folks.