On paper, Iperyt actually sound pretty fucking good. Industrial blackened death metal from Poland? Featuring the vocalist of possibly the angriest metal band of all time, Infernal War? Now there’s something that’ll get my engine purring. Sadly 2006 debut Totalitarian Love Pulse was sloppier and less than interesting than the industrialized version of War I was expecting, and 2011 follow-up No State of Grace didn’t seem to please many critics either. In the years since then, this quintet was rejoined by Mastiphal guitarist ‘Black Messiah’ after his 2010 departure, but have otherwise remained largely dormant until the announcement of this newest release. With third full-length The Patchwork Gehinnom, will Iperyt finally summon the force to bash your fucking face in with their drum machine, one programmed blastbeat at a time?
That certainly seems to be the goal. With their stomping artificial beats, random bursts of static, ample voiceover samples, and occasional weedwhacker blasting, Iperyt garnish their blackened death cocktail with a militant, inhuman edge that sounds something like a mechanized version of Hate or later Behemoth. Guitars veer between chunky riffs, frantic intervals, and tense clean picking, over which vocalist ‘People Hater’ delivers a hoarse scream-shout similar to his work in Infernal War. Songs like “From Nowhere to Nowhere” stretch the template further by riding on tight war march drumming, while tracks like “What Man Creates” feature snappy rhythms which recall a peppier Godflesh.
It’s not a bad formula. The problem is that Iperyt are utterly incapable of making it interesting in any way. “Patchwork” is the right word to describe Gehinnom, as many of these tracks feel stitched together with forgettable riffs that don’t go anywhere or amount to anything. Interestingly enough, one of the worst offenders is opener “Phantom Black Dogs,” which spends five minutes spewing out random tempo shifts and halfhearted ideas that seem to be striving for a climactic buildup but end up feeling confused and aimless. Though it’s partially redeemed by the wailing banshee solo of its conclusion, the legacy of shittiness lives on in tracks like “Devil’s Violent Breed,” which features arbitrary spouts of blasting that attempt to conjure extremity but ultimately leave me unmoved.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the drumming often feels at odds with the rest of the music. Unlike what one might expect from industrial metal, there’s rarely a moment here when everything chugs together powerfully in lockstep. Instead, the guitars often feel wedged into the rhythms, particularly when the drum machine explodes into blasting and ends up sounding like a blender with a bouncy ball stuck in it. Even vocalist ‘People Hater’ sounds far less manic and enthusiastic than in Infernal War, as if he’s all too aware how lacking this is compared to his main band.
That said, Gehinnom isn’t a total atrocity. While featuring the worst song title, late highlight “Scars Are Still Sexy” (ostensibly the sequel to No State of Grace’s “Scars Are Sexy”) actually features an interesting buildup, moving from malicious clean picking to burly riffs over an authoritative beat. Similarly, closer “Checkmate, God!” shows People Hater delivering some bellowing shout-singing over chord progressions that recall the vastness of Downfall of Gaia. Likewise, though the production is crushed like a ball of tin foil, the mechanical guitar tone fits the music well and adds to the inhuman feel.
Make no mistake: Gehinnom is still a bad album. Yet at the same time, I can’t help but be fascinated by it. This was actually an incredibly difficult review to write, as while I was aware how bad this was from first listen, I couldn’t help but enjoy the aesthetic and militant attitude. If this were a movie, it’d be one of those cheesy SyFy originals that used to come on around 2 a.m. You’d never claim they were good, but there’s something earnest and enjoyable about the way they throw all their ridiculous ideas in your face. Of course, the left side of my brain then reminds me there’s no cohesion in the way these ideas are arranged, and as a result, these 46 minutes feel largely like a songwriting mess. There’s glimmers of promise here, but also lots of gunk to be cleaned from the gears before this war machine runs smoothly.