Infera Bruo – Rites of the Nameless Review

In 2018 I opened my review of Infera Bruo‘s Cerement by hailing its cover art as a perfect encapsulation of the record’s sound. Examining the artwork for its follow-up, Rites of the Nameless, I feel compelled to establish this practice as a tradition when reviewing Infera Bruo‘s albums. The depiction of roots coiled around a skull is striking; not so much because of the image itself, but rather that Rites of the Nameless feels like a conscious effort to connect more deeply with black metal’s roots. Indeed, in contrast with its direct predecessor, Rites of the Nameless is a more traditional affair. Does this mean that Cerements‘s dizzying blackened magic has been compromised? Not entirely — the end result isn’t half bad. But in a veritable galaxy of competent black metal, “ain’t half bad” hardly cuts the cosmic mustard, regardless of pedigree.

One thing Rites of the Nameless and Cerement immediately have in common is an intangible factor of instant likability. Many black metal records take multiple spins to convince me of their inherent goodness, but Infera Bruo clicks with less effort than most. Rites of the Nameless makes a solid first impression with its strong emphasis on riffs first and foremost, as opener “The Breath of Chaos” leads the charge with classically-minded tremolo riffs and welcome accents of thrash metal. This eventually transitions into a methodical, atmospheric flow before snaking its way to a final blast of aggression, highlighting the album’s one notable improvement: songwriting. Where Cerement‘s song paths felt underdeveloped, Rites of the Nameless sees Infera Bruo placing greater care in the flow and connection of their movements. These tracks feel like self-contained journeys, and each reaches a satisfactory conclusion.

If only the meat on those structural bones matched the ambitious heights I’ve come to expect from Infera Bruo. As stated, Rites of the Nameless feels like a throwback in its riffs-first approach. The record comes across as a conscious effort to focus on black metal fundamentals, and unfortunately, this seems to have come at the cost of the band’s hypnotic and adventurous nature. While songwriting paths are clearly plotted, the songs lack thematic intent, merely meandering from riff to riff without providing a distinct experience. This isn’t to say that Rites of the Nameless is without highlights. “Frayed” trades off a deliciously creepy central riff with bouts of punky modern black metal akin to early Krallice, and “Latent for Arcane” indulges in infectiously catchy lead guitar work and a darkly beautiful clean-sung refrain. Beyond these standouts, the proceedings are largely average, with riffs just decent enough to be considered memorable. Even the best moments are merely good, rather than captivating.

Rites of the Nameless‘ production is similarly adequate; like the music, it gets the job done, but leaves much to be desired. The distinctly American black metal guitar tone carries over from Cerement, but that record’s uniquely dry and claustrophobic production has been replaced with a more homogeneous soundscape. The flat sound, combined with the diminished drum presence, reinforces my belief that Infera Bruo is intentionally aiming for a more traditional black metal affair. This doesn’t mean that Rites of the Nameless lacks instrumental flair, mind you. While not a technical showcase, the excellent solos in “Latent for Arcane” and the bouncing snare patterns of “Frayed” provide welcome spotlights for Galen Baudhuin and Alex Fewell, respectively. The diminished vocal modulation also provides a stage for Baudhuin to show off his natural talents, with a black metal rasp that’s as classic as they come.

I do not dislike Rites of the Nameless. In fact, I find much of it to be reasonably enjoyable, especially its first half. Yet no aspect of it conveys a distinct voice. If you were to ask me what Infera Bruo sounds like, and I was only familiar with this record, I would tell you that it just sounds like black metal. I can’t fault the band for wanting to try something a little different from Cerement, but the end result feels like a pure indulging of the band’s influences rather than an active effort to branch out their sound. The good news, of course, is that Infera Bruo has recorded multiple albums that are better than this one, so Rites of the Nameless may well represent a creative stumbling block rather than a brick wall. Try it if you’d like, but don’t expect much beyond a basic black metal romp.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records Official | Bandcamp
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 16th, 2020

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