Long time readers of BurningFist will probably be quite familiar with THE INFERNAL SEA by now i would have thought – we’ve pretty much tracked and reviewed most of their output since a chance encounter with the guys when they played in Liverpool supporting EYE OF SOLITUDE just over two years ago, but if you’d like to refresh your memory or check out what they’ve done in the past, be sure to click the links at the bottom of this review!
Now, shameless plug out of the way, on to this, THE INFERNAL SEA’s sophomore full length album, “The Great Mortality”. Having been released on a very limited edition cassette tape in mid-2015, and then again a few months later in CD format for a tour only release, “The Great Mortality” has been pretty sought after, but all this will be remedied when the newly resurrected Cacophonous Records do everyone a favour and release it to a wider, unsuspecting audience.
Long time followers of the band may well get something of a shock, but i expect it to be something of an excited, welcome one, as previously, the band have made no apologies for embracing what could only have been regarded as a “traditional”, raw and uncompromising sound in an attempt to capture the very essence of Black Metal – now, for the most part, this worked very well – the tracks on “The Crypt Sessions” are a wonderful homage to the good old days, but for anyone new to the scene, it could have been something of a barrier.
So, this is where a few years experience, hard live graft and studio savvy have paid off massively, as first of all, “The Great Mortality” sounds fantastic – an almost perfect blend of the harsh, relentlessness you’d expect from an old school BM band, blended with warm bass tones and crystal clear drums, giving this a release a best of both worlds feel.
Starting off with a brooding intro called “Den Sorte Dod” (and thankfully not a keyboard in earshot!) the band slowly raise expectations before first track proper “Way of the Wolf” crashes through. You’d almost be forgiven for thinking that this was early-era DARK FUNERAL such is the ferocity off the onslaught, but just a few minutes in, THE INFERNAL SEA stamp their mark all over it by adding a rebellious groove to proceedings. showing maturity in their song writing – this will work a treat in the live arena.
“The Bearer” is up next, and again, while for the opening moments of the track, this is as brutal a black metal attack as you’d hope for with more than a couple of nods towards British black metal institution HECATE ENTHRONED, with vocalist Dean’s rasps piercing through the melee, but then out of nowhere, a violin lead refrain. Cementing something that MY DYING BRIDE have been telling us for years now, violins are a sorrowful creature, so when added to arpeggiated chords and harrowing cries, its an intoxicating mix and one that’s built on to great effect!
“Purification by Fire” sees the band continue on the path of ferocity with more traditional rooted extreme metal – blistering yet catchy tremolo picked riffs and raging drumming build tension and drama but there is just enough melody and variation to keep it all interesting, whereas “Pestmeester” harks to elements of DARK THRONE or SATYRICON’s finer moments and flirts with that groove element again to great effect.
Showing another string to their bow, things slowdown somewhat with “Plague Herald”, and with it comes an atmosphere change also, as after 30-odd minutes of venom-spitting brutality its a fairly stark contrast. But as the old saying goes, the best is saved for last, and its certainly true here of “Brethren of the Cross” – clocking in a just over 8 and a half minutes, its a whirlwind of styles and ideas that are bludgeoned upon the listener – from its chaotic opening bars through more SATYRICON-esque harmonies and spoken word interludes, its a real black metal showcase all in one song.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve returned to “The Great Mortality” as this point, but even after so many spins, it still has a welcome place on my stereo such is its staying power and whats truly great is to see how THE INFERNAL SEA have morphed in to the band they are now, and long may they continue to grow.