Infernus Grinding Christian Flesh 01I’ve never listened to Infernus before, and a quick perusal of their promo shots (corpsepaint, bullet-belts, graveyards) and song titles (killing Christians, paganism, war, sodomy) led me to believe they were a Scandinavian second wave band that I’d just never got around to checking out. Infernus in fact hail from the other side of the globe – they are based in Portland, and formed relatively recently, releasing their debut Nex Um Monastica in 2012. I know two things about Portland: firstly, it is home to 56 breweries, and secondly, my buddy Ben really enjoys its strip clubs. I believe it’s also better known as a haven for hipsters than as a black metal Mecca, so I hoped Infernus weren’t wearing their spikes ironically (especially given recent accusations about the AMG staff’s plaid shirt collections that have been flying around recently) [Except for me, I’m too trve to be hip.Steel Druhm].

Fortunately, Infernus‘ music is the real deal. They sound just as they appear: like a mid-90s Swedish black metal band. Their music (and image) is built on a base of Marduk and Dark Funeral, with a large dollop of Nifelheim style thrashy goodness. Infernus are strangers to both subtlety and originality, and save for a few moments of Dissection-influenced melody (“Worms of the Casket” in particular is Dissection-worship that Watain would love to have penned), there’s little let-up from the thrashing or blasting. For the most part this is effective: Infernus are decent songwriters, and with the album clocking in at 43 minutes (minus the Inquisition and Horna covers tacked on after the outro) they don’t outstay their welcome.

Their main trouble is that, despite their clear dedication to darkness, it all sounds rather pedestrian. This style was perfected long ago, and Grinding Christian Flesh adds nothing to what the aforementioned Swedish bands have been doing since the 90s. While I’m not opposed to paying tribute to your influences, you either have to add a little extra (e.g. Galar) or make sure your songs are absolutely shit hot (wrong genre I know, but cf. Unrest‘s recent Grindcore). Infernus do neither, resulting in an album that, while enjoyable, does nothing to make me want to spin it again once it’s over. Some moments hint that they have it in them to step things up a notch – “Verminnihilation”‘s Kreator-inspired riffs, “Whore of Christ'”s Venom feel, and a riff near the start of the title track that screams Vader; while each example is again derivative of another band, it’s at least notable for moving away from the Swedish black metal standard.

Infernus Grinding Christian Flesh 02

Production-wise I have few complaints – everything is clear yet low-fi. Scything, icy guitars are perhaps a little too fizzy, and the bass could use more definition, but the vocals and especially drums fit the style extremely well, sounding natural but aggressive with dollops of reverb. The overall atmosphere is similar to that evoked by Marduk, Funeral Mist or Ondskapt: majestic, evil fury. Each band member turns in an excellent performance without sounding overly polished, and vocalist Hredthel in particular has a good range of croaks, screams, growls, and even the odd Don Doty-esque (ex Dark Angel) high-pitched scream. As usual, greater dynamic range would have been welcome, but the overall impression is authentic and ideal for the music.

Grinding Christian Flesh is a fine dose of black metal fury, but Infernus either need to develop their own identity or dramatically improve their riff-writing if they’re going to make a lasting impression on the genre. If nothing else though, its adherence to Swedish second-wave tropes means the record serves one useful purpose: it’s the perfect antidote to Liturgy over-exposure.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Moribund Records
Websites: Facebook/Infernus
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 04.14.2015

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  • El_Cuervo

    If you listen carefully and play the music backwards, there’s a secret anti-Christian message in this.

    • basenjibrian

      El Cuervo:
      Funny, but when I played the song backwards, I heard a real fire and brimstone Billy Graham sermon urging me to repent!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I just tried that and, my god, you’re right! Here’s one of the more telling messages I’ve found so far:

      “slanting out with cream bowels squirrel chippy bent sloat (slom?) please lemon.”

  • Martin Knap

    Any US black metal bands that I should absolutely listen to except Inquisition, Leviathan, Absu, Panopticon, and (my recent favorite, thanks to AMG) Shroud of Despondecy? _____what are your thoughts on Prophanatica, Crimson Moon and the older guard of USBM?

    • Jean-Luc Ricard

      I’m not hugely up on USBM compared with black metal from Europe, especially the older bands. Agalloch are on many people’s essential list, but I’ve never really got into them. Judas Iscariot are a classic older band, and Xasthur get a lot of love. More recently, I’ve very much enjoyed Woe, Falls of Rauros, Wolves in the Throne Room and Krallice. I’m sure the other staff and readers will have more recommendations.

    • Alexandre Barata

      I also enjoy sporadically Grand Belial’s Key, specially the last album, Kosherat is a great album imo. And I agree with Jean-Luc, above me (or is it below???). Can’t say anything about older guard of USBM, as I don’t really know any band very well. If Canadian BM counts, Blasphemy was cool, though :)

      • If you like GBK you will also likely dig Arghoslent.

        • Alexandre Barata

          If you’re talking about ideological I couldn’t care less, I can’t understand the lyrics and I won’t try to find them, as the only thing that matters to me is how it sounds ;) If you’re saying sonically, then I might check them, but I believe it’s the 1st option.

          • Though ideologically they are similar, the ideology isn’t what I am into either. Both walk that line between death and black metal and have a similar sound and writing style, which makes sense since they shared members. The vocals are a bit more one dimensional than GBK but the music may be even more quirky, which is what I did about them both. Some of the parts are just… odd.

          • It takes a damn good band for me to look past ideology I don’t agree with. Another great one is Sigrblot from Sweden. They are defunct now but their one full length, Blodsband (Blood Religion Manifest) is one of the finest black metal albums ever.

          • Alexandre Barata

            I tend to look past ideologies on bands. If I didn’t and wouldn’t listen far right or far left wings bands I would be damned and would have to listen to little stuff at all :P Also as I have an earing condition (can hear all waves of sounds, just can’t understand voices most of the time or without great concentration) lyrics tend to be secondary for me, as voice is just another instrument in my mind

          • Alexandre Barata

            Ok duly noted. Gotta check that :)

    • Check out December Wolves – Completely Dehumanized. Black Funeral – Vampyr: Throne of the Beast. Judas Iscariot – To Embrace the Corpses Bleeding. Krieg – The Black House. Profanatica is good, they lean a bit towards Incantation-ish death metal as well.

    • Óðhinn

      Cobalt
      Castevet
      Ludicra
      Lightning Swords of Death (if you like your BM thrashed)
      Agalloch
      Negative Plane
      Ash Borer
      Nachtmystium
      Woe
      Falls of Rauros
      Judas Iscariot

      • Martin Knap

        A lot of bands I’m at least somewhat familiar with (of some I didn’t know they were American), cool stuff, but I don’t know if anything of it speaks to me on a deeper level. But I will listen more. thanks

        • Óðhinn

          Yeah, music is largely subjective. I even find that some things I didn’t like on first listen, I’ve really liked later. Bastard Sapling, for example. I wasn’t impresses at first, but gave it another chance and wondered why I didn’t like it before. Maybe I was in different mood.

          Anyway, a few suggestions to try.

          • Martin Knap

            Of course every band is different and for every band you will have different reason for liking or not liking it. Taste is subjective, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be universally valid – at least according to Kant.

          • Óðhinn

            Who says it Kant be universally valid?

            Well..Kant, for one. ;)

          • Martin Knap

            nice, all in the context of aesthetic taste?

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Also check out both Revenge and Magister Dixit, even though they’re Canadian.

    • Besides the others that have been already mentioned such as Woe an GBK I would mention False, Bosse De Nage, Ash Borer, Fell Voices and Skagos (even though they are canadian they are usually mentioned into the USBM scene)

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Weakling is essential in my book.

      • Martin Knap

        wow that one really is great. thanks.

  • Óðhinn

    This is some nice Black Thrash. Thanks Jean-Luc Ricard. Good review.

  • Angelcorpse, Perdition Temple and Order from Chaos skirt the line between death and black and are all excellent.