Prosanctus Inferi – Hypnotic Blood Art Review

I’ll be honest: I don’t give a fuck about most new music out there today. Lately, the only thing I want to listen to is blackened death, blackened thrash, and the occasional hardcore band that actually has interesting guitar parts. Fortunately, bands like Prosanctus Inferi are here to provide new music that I’m actually interested in hearing. Formed in 2005, this Ohio group first came to my attention with their second album, 2013’s Noctambulous Jaws Within Sempiternal Night. That record was a blackened death metal enigma, full of twisted and wicked riffing that made me imagine a nightmarish labyrinth where Profanatica and Angelcorpse got lost together after ingesting hallucinogens of questionable origin. It was a strange yet ultimately enjoyable romp that primed my anticipation for the band’s third album, Hypnotic Blood Art. Of course, seven years is a long time between albums, and thus it’s not surprising that Art brings some stylistic changes along with it. Fortunately, this is a case where a band manage to successfully morph into something slightly different without sacrificing much in the way of quality.

The biggest difference between this and Jaws is how much blunter and more direct the music feels. Whereas Jaws often made one’s head spin with its fast and otherworldly riffs, Art largely builds itself from slower and burlier progressions. Opener “Dark Scarp of Hell” shows this outright, hoisting up commanding tremolos between bouts of pounding military rhythms. As before the wretched and raspy vocals bring to mind Profanatica while the writhing riffs evoke Angelcorpse, though this time the slower tempos make everything feel heavier and more deliberate. This feeling is maintained in songs like “Sheol Below” and “Blood Synod,” which break into slow beefy lurches that add a smidge of headbangable crunch to the proceedings. Through it all the band conjure a thick, ritualistic, and morbid atmosphere that faintly recalls Mystifier but otherwise feels quite unique.

As Art continues, guitarist Jake Kohn (ex-Father Befouled) does a good job keeping things interesting with his varied riffs. The title track feels less like the other songs and more like a callback to Jaws, with its blasting rhythms, weird riffing, and high-register tremolos closely resembling that album. Later songs like “Void Called as Black Bonds” and “Geist Enthralled” give off some whiffs of Goatpenis, with “Geist” standing out further with its off-kilter melody. Yet perhaps the most unique song is closer “The Fearful Pit,” which tears right into a headstrong groove that sounds like something from Entombed, before Kohn peppers the rest of the song with his usual boiling tremolos.

I really like both the atmosphere and many of the tracks here, but it does feel like the band’s songwriting palette is a bit limited. There are no interludes or clean guitar parts and very few ideas show the band truly stretching beyond their comfort zone. Likewise, nearly every one of these 11 tracks runs right around four minutes and most of them operate at about the same tempo. As a result there are no “short and fast” or “long and epic” songs here, and thus some of the tracks start to bleed together in the album’s second half. It doesn’t help that Kohn’s vocals are pretty monotonous, treading the line between aggressive and harrowing without making a satisfying commitment to either. Fortunately the production is great and fits the music well. The guitars sit right at the front with a warm and hefty presence while the drums crash beneath it all in quite a satisfying way.

I’ve always thought of Prosanctus Inferi as a bit of a weird band and that certainly hasn’t changed with Hypnotic Blood Art. What has changed is the band’s riffing, which has generally become simpler, slower, and more direct. With this change, the group has conjured an atmosphere that feels less otherworldly and more intimate (in the most foreboding sense of the word, of course). In essence, the band have become weird in a different way. Fortunately, this new approach still results in some great ideas and memorable songs, not to mention an album that’s fully enjoyable front to back. Fans of the stranger regions of blackened death metal are sure to relish Art and I’ve no doubt this album will be raising some eyebrows and garnering some worthy attention even outside the style’s usual circles.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
Releases Worldwide: July 13th, 20201

Show 1 footnote

  1. This was originally slated for release in the middle of August before getting moved up to July because the physical copies apparently arrived earlier than expected. In other words, grab your copy now fukkers!
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