Act of Impalement – Infernal Ordinance Review

I’m not sure what else you could say the “act of impalement” is but, I dunno, impaling? Tie in the “infernal ordinances” that your HOA brings up, and goddamn, you better keep that lawn mowed. If Bev shows up with a casserole of green Jell-O salad, you accept with a smile but dump it in the trash later. If she appears armed with a clipboard and that suit of armor? You bet your bottom dollar you’ll eat every bite and remember to bring your dumpsters in on trash day. Thank Odin that Act of Impalement ain’t your HOA because they sure know how to bring the hurt.

Act of Impalement is a death/doom/black metal trio from Nashville, with a handful of demos, two EPs, and a full-length under their spike-studded belts. While previous outing Perdition Cult offered each of their influences like a charcuterie board, Infernal Ordinance streamlines them for a maximum punishment platter, borrowing from classics like Bolt Thrower, Incantation, and Entombed, with hints of Behemoth and Belphegor. Steeped in a caustic pit of sludge,1 Act of Impalement sharpens their previously promising weapons in favor of brutal worship of THA RIFF, and benefits mightily. While Infernal Ordinance is perhaps more one-dimensional than it should be, its cutthroat energy, infectious rhythms, and tasteful inclusions of vitriolic blackened death, filthy crust punk, and weighty doom make Act of Impalement an act to watch.

What is most notable about Infernal Ordinance is its filthy and infectious guitar tone for maximum death metal grime. Opener “Summoning the Final Conflagration” sets one hell of a precedent, as the mammoth Bolt Thrower-esque riffs alternate between vicious grooves and doomy plods, deepened by Ethan Rock’s hellish roars. The riffs never stop, even alongside the crust punk scab of “Bogbody” and “Atomic Hecatomb” that showers with fresh blood, or the feedback-laden doom weight that borders ugly Eyehategod-level sludge in tracks like “Specters of Unlight” or closer “Erased.” “In Wolflight,” “Creeping Barrage,” and “Death Hex” are highlights, as they abandon the plodding structure in favor of an unhinged blackened death attack, tremolo morphing into grimy riffs seamlessly and blastbeats cutting loose with maniacal intentions. Act of Impalement furthermore knows when there’s too much of a good thing with more than reasonable track lengths: Infernal Ordinance is an easily digestible affair at twenty-eight minutes with tons of fun to offer, with nearly unlimited replay value.

That’s not to say that Infernal Ordinance is perfect. Most glaringly, it is a boatload of fun riffs but little else, in spite of borrowing from death, black, doom, sludge, and crust punk. Act of Impalement has streamlined its influences so ferociously, especially compared to the noxiously inconsistent splatter of its predecessor, that any experimentation is lost. War metal-esque solos run amok, but are often drowned out by the riffs, and no lulling passages in sight – not that we need them, of course. Perhaps an odd album structuring issue, the final four songs all begin with a 6/8 timing. While not bad by any means, it’s just a head-scratcher that all these tracks come as a bundle at the album’s conclusion. On that note, while each track carefully borrows from its influences, closer “Erased” dives headlong into the death/doom, an odd way to close the album. Nitpicking, “Bogbody” is relatively forgettable, the “ooh-aahs” of “Blasphemous Rebirth” get a little much, and the albeit solid riff is repeated a few too many times in “Specters of Unlight.” Finally, while Act of Impalement does a great job of channeling classic death metal through a sludge filter with some black and doom to boot, the trio makes no pretense about challenging the way we see death metal.

Act of Impalement offers definitively fun death/sludge. Dropping the kvlt pretenses of Hierophant and the claustrophobic darkness of Mass Worship, Infernal Ordinance is all riff, all the time. Perhaps more on the death end of the spectrum than Warcrab, you can expect sludgy death metal riffs galore, blackened death insanity, crust punk grime, and doom weight aplenty – oh, and the riffs. Normally, I would be opposed to this level of omni-riffage, but Act of Impalement uses brevity to maximum vitriol to wrap it up in time to make the neighborhood watch meeting by 5:00. Bev from the HOA never looked so terrifying and so alluring all at once.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Caligari Records
Website: |
Releases Worldwide: February 2nd, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. Courtesy of Yautja’s Shibby Poole, in charge of recording and mixing.
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