Infernum - The Curse
Sound Riot Records
Symphonic / Atmospheric Black Metal
7 songs (31:30)
Release year: 2006
Infernum, Sound Riot Records
Reviewed by Kayla
Crap of the month

Infernum has had a strange history. Founded in 1992 by then-vocalist, guitarist and bassist Anextiomarus and drummer Tom Balrog, Infernum released a couple albums with session players (including Rob Darken (Graveland) on keyboards), lost their drummer, was disbanded sometime in the mid-90s, then was re-formed in 2002 with Anextiomarus as the only original member, who subsequently committed suicide in 2004 after recording The Curse. The rest of the band managed to secure a deal with Sound Riot Records to release said album, which is how it managed to come across my desk.

The Curse is bookended with intro and outro tracks, both of which consist mostly of atmospheric noises meant to convey a sense of evil and foreboding. Unfortunately, this turns out to be the first place Infernum falls short; instead of sounding like the proper background for a Satanic invocation (Invocation being, appropriately enough, the title of the intro track; it features a very sincerely spoken prayer to the aforementioned Lord of Lies), it ends up sounding more like one of those CDs of spooky noises to play for the neighbor children on Halloween. In addition, the track itself is twice as long as it has to be; it begins to drag at two minutes, and by the time it reaches three, you’re giving thanks to the dark lord for the existence of the “skip track” button. Three minutes of spooky synth noises don’t usually hold much interest by themselves, and unfortunately, the synth components of The Curse never improve. To the contrary, they only become worse and more prominent as the album progresses.

Once the album begins in earnest, the second big weakness becomes apparent as the production falls flat on its face. The synth has become the focal point almost by default; it carries the largest part of the melody and is extremely high in the mix, dominating the guitars, which are little more than a buzzing drone. While this kind of sound can be extremely effective in creating a depressive atmosphere (plenty of funeral doom bands have done so), Infernum don’t quite manage it (due in large part to the extreme cheesiness of the synth, as mentioned before). With the exception of Storm Rider, there’s nary a riff in sight, only prolonged notes and a few melodies attempting to be delicate and evil. The drums are also quite high in the mix, and have a tinny tone which, again, can be used effectively in raw black metal, but the level of skill Charon uses to weld the sticks is low enough that it makes the whole endeavor sound amateurish rather than raw.

However, The Curse is not without its values. Anextiomarus is no slouch behind the mic most of the time, with a full, well-developed screech. His delivery is well-timed for the most part, and while there’s no melody and only a basic rhythm to the vocal line, the rest of the music is sparse enough that it ends up complementing rather than detracting from it. However, Storm Rider, The Crock Of The Gold and Pagan also involve some clean vocals, which sound like nothing so much as a bad Dracula impression, trying overly hard to be creepy and evil. This might be due to the production; the clean female vocals in Pagan suffer from an odd tone quality as well, sounding nasally and whiny.

In the end, Infernum have put out something probably better left buried. Atmospheric does not mean a lack of musical definition, nor is it usually advisable to put a synth in charge of carrying the bulk of the melody, especially when it sounds more at home in a paper mache jack o’ lantern than a black metal album. I’m loathe to call albums out-and-out failures, but The Curse seems to merit it. Better luck next time.

Important Note: Neither Kayla nor Metal Reviews approve or condone any of the ideologies promoted and supported by any National Socialist Black Metal band; even though the intention of this review is to portray the musical quality of the album, it is the duty of Metal Reviews to explicitly express its firm stance againts any form of discrimination.

Killing Songs :
Kayla quoted 30 / 100
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