Inferno – Paradeigma (Phosphenes of Aphotic Eternity) Review

Inferno might be the most obvious metal band name ever. On my initial search, I came across eighteen different Infernos (with and without umlauts). But I’ll give it to this Czech version, as they were obviously around when Inferno was a cool moniker. With now eight full-lengths under their belt, this group has been knocking around the black metal scene since 1996. With over a dozen splits, demos, compilations, and live albums, this Inferno has touched every nook and cranny of black metal as we know it. After walking the decimated path created by their Norwegian brethren, harshness and modernity began to creep into the songwriting. Albums like 2009’s Black Devotion and 2013’s Omniabsence Filled by His Greatness began to show a second-wave edginess. There were big hints of a new change in the band’s sound, but I would never have expected 2017’s Gnosis Kardias (Of Transcension and Involution). Our dear Eldritch liked it—even praised it. But what’s next for this now atmospheric black metal outfit? Will they push ever onward or return to that cracked pavement of the past?

If I’ve learned anything from Inferno’s catalog, it’s that the past is dead and gone. There will be no returning to traditional black for this crew. What the band has been morphing into for the last decade goes even further with Paradeigma (Phosphenes of Aphotic Eternity). The rasps are gone, most of the trebly buzzsaw has vanished, and this new record is a thirty-six-minute storm bearing down on a lightning-scarred countryside. It’s like a summoning atop a Miskatonic hilltop. There are no coherent vocals on the record. Instead, you get distant choirs, reverberating yowlings, and the occasional prayer-like chant. What the words might be, no one knows because you shouldn’t know. Gnosis Kardias hinted at it, but the vocals are far beyond what I expected.

Whatever this album is bringing into our world, it does it with sinister key work, blankets of layered guitar work, and drums mighty enough to wake the Cthulu. The back-to-back “Phosphenes” and “Ekstasis of the Continuum” are prime examples of the band’s engulfing atmospheres. The first track is the true beginning of the storm. It’s a slow piece that capitalizes on atmosphere, drum work, whispering, and a distant piercing that sounds like a siren. On first listen, my thoughts immediately went to the water-slogged shore of the movie, The Lighthouse. Alone, “Phosphenes” is a beautifully haunting track. But its greatest strength is that it acts as the opener to “Ekstasis of the Continuum.” After some cheesy key work, the band lowers their heads to the wind and slowly trudges up the storm-whipped hill. It’s an epic piece that never quits climbing.

Other epic pieces are “Descent into Hell of the Future” and closer “Stars Within and Stars Without Projected into the Matrix of Time.” The first of these two tracks is a slow-burner. It’s a slow march that picks up a passionate riff to build on. Smooth and almost beautiful, the riff gets covered in filth and learns to hate the world. Getting meaner and meaner by the minute, the song quiets only for a second. In that time, the drums beat its heart back to life, and the song smashes its way to the finish line. The closer also uses cruising riffs and solid drum work to carve a place into the album. But, as all closers should, it pushes even harder than all the rest. Taking elements from both “Ekstasis of the Continuum” and “Descent into Hell of the Future,” the resulting immersive build is just what the album needed. Three-quarters in, it sets the beast free with a final prayer. Then it fades away, basking its glory.

The band’s previous release had many of the same elements and atmospheres as this new opus. At times, though, it introduced some serious heaviness and even headbangable transitions. Those head-banging moments are few and far between on Paradeigma. That’s not a negative statement. If anything, it’s a compliment to this new record. Unlike the last album, this new one has a damn-near perfect flow from beginning to end. It’s a terrifying journey that pulls you in with each passing minute. Paradeigma is also far more concise and calculating than Gnosis Kardias. There’s no deviation from the path and no testing of the waters. After it starts, it never stops. Minus the useless opener—that’s more jarring than helpful to the album—and the cringy keys of “Ekstasis of the Continuum,” this is a damn good album. I know atmospheric albums aren’t for everyone, but if you want to lose yourself for a while, check this out.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 7th, 2021

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