I think its safe to assume we are all collectively glad to throw 2016 to our backs – a sentiment that, by the time this review is published, will be about as moot as my country’s Liberal Party. Seemingly for the majority, the previous 12 months was a globally testing time and, sadly, I can’t report otherwise. I certainly won’t be sorry to bid an acrimonious farewell to a year full of poor personal decisions and even worse ramifications. The renewing of the annual cycle is, however, an opportunity to right all wrongs, and with that I embark on a mission, nay, quest, to rope-a-dope the shit out of 2017. So while the gross mass of Snapchat toting, festering virulence that metalheads refer to as “everyone else” is busy pretending anyone cares about their overzealous New Year’s promises, invoking Carrie Bradshaw as their spirit animal, I opted to keep things real and begin 2017 with a musical chop to the cerebrum, sure to blast the gossamer and clean the pipes. Introducing Chile’s very own Infamovs, champions of that perennially classic style of exhumed, grave dusted death metal, which we all love to love. And, yes, I did spell the band name correctly; you’re going to have to be extra kvlt to read this one.
Debut Under The Seals of Death is fit to burst with a case of the old schools and a clear love of a more brutal death metal. The band ushers Seals in with the obligatory throwaway intro track until the album begins proper with “Dawn of the Black Dance.” Drummer A.M (yep, initials only, guys) bursts out with a record-long bacchanale of blast beats before the track slows the pace into some darkened doom. This abrupt alteration, coupled with F.U’s monosyllabic, cavernous vocals conjure up obvious comparisons to New York legends Incantation, until the track re-accelerates into the bands comfort zone of face melting speed. The seat of the pants riff-work stays fairly true to form on the entirety of the album, ceasing only occasionally as in “Call Upon Blasphemovs,” where at the halfway point the guitars take a welcome turn into a staccato chug, riven by the rumble of the vocals.
By and large, the album blurs by in something of a whirling, percussive haze, although eventually some influences do begin to make themselves known. There’s a definite flavor of early Malevolent Creation in some of the rhythms – “God of Pestilence” features some of the albums best riffs and straight Azagthothian soloing. The leads take on the same dissonant, wailing polyphonic tone as heard in Domination and add some much needed diversity to an already dense album. With the odd exception, Under the Seals of Death doesn’t really feature that many discernible ideas. The bands opts for a classic sound and reinforces it with a huge rhythm section, and this works to a point. “Of Force and Plague” features an absolutely punishing onslaught of militaristic blast beats, which are closely paralleled by an array of palm-muted chugging. I listened to this while working out and after finding that I had bench pressed 3 bison and the great Steel Gorilla himself, I can report it had the desired effect on my adrenaline levels [Kindly post all your bench press stats in your next review. – Steel Druhm]. It was only upon closer inspection that I realized that the record’s intensity actually fosters a dearth of great riffs. The hooks that do stand out are, in fact, incredibly limited, highlighted only by the homogeneous chaos that makes up the main corpse of the album. My appreciation for the fairly simplistic changes in tempo were magnified because the album had me starved of them. It’s basically a riff of attrition.
As an ode to the style of music they play, Infamovs sought to fit the album with a suitably old-school production job. Although, clocking in at DR6, it has a distinctly early 90’s feel, with the vocals sitting squarely in the middle of the mix, making room for A.M and his kit. The drumming on this record is the undisputed highlight, arming much of what is, frankly, often quite faceless death metal with real teeth.
Under the Seals of Death is an album by a band unashamed to mash their influences into one and wear them proudly for all to see. The only problem being that they seemed to leave out any of the raw ingenuity that informed that first wave in the first place. Infamovs deal out a sufficient beating – but since when was sufficiency an efficient efficacy in a world of brutality?