Released: 2013, Agonia Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
The Czech underground scene seems to be bursting with black metal bands creeping out of the border and into the European market. Forming in 1995, INFERNO are an old-school band, arriving during the peak of the hype surrounding the genre. Their previous 5 studio albums didn’t show much promise of progression, a tome to stasis and tradition however their return with studio album number 6th has come with the promise of a new era. Is this the beginning of a change of direction? A new path for a band that has seen limited success with their old style… can this really be the benchmark album they have been selling it as?
From start to finish this album is a mindless haze of distortion in a vile cacophony of anger and hatred. Described as Luciferian black metal, it really is raised straight out of the gates of hell and released on the world. OMNIABSENCE FILLED BY HIS GREATNESS intertwines hazy riffs and dissonant noise with a lashing of psychedelia rising up through the depths of the songs, before passing back into the depths.
Much of this album relies on the standard, the aggressive riffing and mists of notes blending into some kind of menacing atmosphere that can quickly become old, but songs often break into moments of pure brilliance. 'The Firstborn from the Mirk' is the perfect example of this, containing high and haunting synths that compliment the atmosphere of the song, and sonically writing the black and tarry depths and the creature that rises from it into your mind. This short section is all too brief however and we are quickly thrown back into the mire of notes that portray very little focus or direction.
Pulling together all the splits, EPs and demos, Inferno’s discography reads almost like a saga in itself totally 35 releases in only 18 years. It’s hard not to question whether this excessively prolific band are releasing a little too fast, whether the songs could be refined into something more exciting. This album really hasn’t changed in that area, it still feels rushed and in places, empty and there’s nothing more frustrating than listening to an album that could have been so much more had the composer spent a few more hours or taken a few more risks.
So back to the question, is OMNIABSENCE FILLED BY HIS GREATNES really a new musical direction for the veteran Czech band? Yes, in so many ways you can hear the difference from the albums before it. It’s just not as diverse and unique as you might expect from a change in directions or an experiment in sound. Throwing itself between tantalizing and painfully generic is something this album is very skilled at. Too often it falls back on the average Czech black metal sound to get it to the next interesting passage of psychedelic infused black metal.
The colourful world of psychedelia and the stark sound of black metal may not be obvious partners, but in this case it really works. They may not have got the balance between bleakness and rampant spiritualism quite right, but this is a bold statement of intent. A little more time, a little more work and we may see something truly unique from these guys.
Review by Caitin Smith