Revenant begins with a frenetic, fast-paced burst of blast-beat driven melotech madness, and never really lets up from there. The brainchild of guitarist/uber-musician Malcolm Pugh, this Nashville quintet has upped the ante in just about every aspect on this, their 4th full-length release. Swirling, hypnotic leads are intertwined with crushing rhythms and a symphonic touch to near perfection on every track. It’s best consumed as a whole piece, although several of the songs – “Condemned Assailant”, “Through The Depths”, “Enraged and Drowning Sullen”, and “Thy Menacing Gaze” leap to mind – are chunks of pure genius that manage to evoke early Cradle of Filth without all the fluff or the crushing weight of Dani Filth’s ego mixed with the almost too-melodic thrash riffing of early In Flames; achieving a theatricality that is too often looked over in modern death metal while remaining complex and catchy. Several of the solos throughout the album legitimately gave me ASMR (goosebumps) the first few times I listened to them, and each track features a moment where several disparate ideas come together in a solo or crushing riff that feels like the sort of payoff that made me love this kind of music in the first place. In fact, my only nitpick at all is that a few of the outro riffs fade out too soon, I feel like the end of “Thy Menacing Gaze” could have been held for a few more measures. In the grand scheme of things, though, that hardly counts as a complain. I just want more of it.
The previous release by this band, The Path of Apotheosis, was excellent. It – along with Illuminance by Virvum and both albums by Beyond Creation – really helped to re-ignite what had been a waning passion for metal in me. This album, though, raises the bar in every single way. The drumming of Jack Blackburn is insane and consistent and groovy and complex and expertly performed. Malcolm Pugh plays the guitar like he’s possessed by the actual devil, both precise and intricate but with a barely restrained madness that fits the concept of the band perfectly; this is complimented to great effect by the tight and technical rhythms of Mike Low. The bass playing sticks out in particular; I’m not sure if it was the mix or what on the last album, but I barely remember noticing the bass at all, not really. This time around, Joel Schwallier puts himself firmly in the conversation for most exciting death metal bassist in the game today. “Through the Depths” and “Smolder In The Ash” in particular features some bass parts that get stuck in my head, and I find myself humming them hours later. That doesn’t happen a lot with bass parts, not for me anyway.
The whole thing is a trip. Every time one of those incredible, song-anchoring riffs hits, I find myself feeling like I’m ten feet tall. Like if I just flex my dick hard enough, I can extinguish the sun. Like I leave dead birds and swooning goth chicks in my wake. “Enraged And Drowning Sullen” and the aforementioned “Condemned Assailant” are extreme examples of this, but really every track on the album does it at some point.
The new Inferi is a wild, chaotic, intense ride with infinite listens in it. Go get it. Right now.