Tech Death Thursday: Inferi – Revenant

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Inferi are back with a new album. It’s good!

Tech support:

  • Prog death dudes Æpoch are streaming their new album in full right here. Get yourself a copy of Awakening Inception when it comes out tomorrow.
  • Infected Dead have a new lyric video up for “Resurrectionist” that avoids much of the cringe factor of most lyric videos. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to jam their EP again.
  • Burial in the Sky have a new song up, and it’s pure progressive death metal goodness. Much as I liked their previous effort, this sounds like it’s going to be a fair bit better.

I feel like a bit of an outlier in the tech death community in that I wasn’t completely blown away by the last Inferi album, Path of Apotheosis. Don’t get me wrong, I like the album (I still listen to it every now and then) and I have a great time in the moment when it’s on, but I honestly can’t remember much of it between listens. The only part that continually sticks with me is that clean guitar part in “Those Who From the Heavens Came” where it goes up a major third under a minor lead; it’s weird, but it sounds cool in context. The point is that while the album is full of some of the craziest playing you’ll hear in tech death, the hooks generally didn’t catch for me.

Revenant, on the other hand, is immediately and constantly catchy. It feels less like you’re constantly being assailed with as many notes as can be crammed into a single measure; it’s still fast, and the technical aspect hasn’t really been toned down, but it’s been implemented more strategically. Revenant’s neoclassical melodies are more coherent and distinct than those of its predecessor, carrying the same sinister feeling as before while exploring more rhythmic diversity. The use of synth to accentuate the melody helps guide your ears through the more chaotic moments, and they have a particularly sweet section on “Thy Menacing Gaze” where they both build a dramatic atmosphere and mingle with the guitars, culminating in one of the best outros on the album.

One of the album’s biggest successes lies in the way it flows. Each song is distinct, yes, but the melancholic feeling that persists throughout them helps tie it all back to the album’s narrative. It’s a fine example of musical storytelling; even if you’re oblivious to the story told with the lyrics, the songs themselves progress through the arc all on their own. The big intros make it feel like you’re starting a new chapter, and it makes each song that much more satisfying. It’s one thing to hear them on their own, but it’s completely different to hear them in context. Take album closer, “Behold the Bearer of Light:” my initial reaction to it as the first song released was positive, but I wasn’t floored by it. However, when you listen to the album in full and that chorus comes in for the first time, it feels immensely grand and powerful. I know it’s hard to illustrate this with only a couple preview songs available, but trust me when I say that this album is meant to be consumed in one go.

All these songwriting improvements aside, the most immediately noticeable upgrade is in the mix and master. I like mids in my music, but Path of Apotheosis was a just a bit too mid-heavy, sounding especially throaty whenever they switched to the neck pickup. It’s more even across the board now, which helps every instrument stand out. The strings aren’t relegated to background twinkling anymore, and the bass is actually audible this time around; especially awesome given former Dawn of Dementia bassist Joel Schwallier’s incredible performance. The acoustic guitars are way more dynamic as well; it’s just better all around.

I can’t really think of any more coherent points to make, but I’m way into this album, so I’m just gonna gush some stray thoughts for a bit. The guest spots are awesome, with James Malone of Arsis appearing on “Through the Depths” and the ever-ubiquitous Trevor Strnad voicing Lucifer on the closing track. The guitar solos rip, as expected, and hearing the guitarists (guitarist? Not sure if Malcolm plays all the solos or if lead duties are shared between both guitarists) step out of their comfort zone and pull out some new tricks makes them that much better. Orchestrations in tech death always carry the possibility of making the music embarrassingly cheesy, but they help make Revenant into the powerhouse that it is (the piano bits on “Smolder in Ash” are especially cool). Between the neoclassical melodies and the evil atmosphere, this is basically tech death Castlevania, and that’s just about the highest praise I can give anything.

If you’ve been looking for some pure tech death that just trounces the competition, then Revenant is what you need. Inferi have reexamined and improved their formula and have put out easily their best work because of it. If you like what you heard today, you can pick up the album from The Artisan Era’s store or Bandcamp, and you can find Inferi on Facebook. That’s all for this time; until next week,

Stay Tech


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