Known around these parts as a blackened heavy rock n’ roll band, Inquisition’s brand of black metal is produced by a high-energy application of black metal riffing with a heavy rock rhythmic sense, but within the riff salad paradigm. The result are relatively varied and outstretched songs that tend to tire the ear even though their duration is not very long. The variety of these riffs is also more apparent than effective, since they are all heavily anchored around a sense of rhythmic hooks and black metal tremolo technique, never really straying away from it.
Despite these serious technical deficiencies, we hear a band marching against wind and tide towards their evil, propaganda. Producing a music that is, to those used to bask in the consumate musical glory of Immortal, somewhat of a quaint laughing matter. Despite all of this, if even these listeners lie back and allow the music to well-up, Inquisition manage to be one of the most strongly evocative black metal acts out there today, even if exclussively by dint of the effects of their croak n’ roll black riff train without heads or tails.
I. Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult
The Inquisition album par excellence, the debut of the actualized Inquisition trademark sound presents a band at its most natural, yet therefore also at its most unbalanced. The music straddles in a never-ending space that allows for high-power riffs as well as slow ones, not to mention relatively paused passages that allow for some silences in percussion, some breathing room. No other Inquisition album is as musically and mythically infused as this one. On the conceptual side, the satanic myth of the ancient cult is expounded esoterically, with overt tones that shield real and sublime concepts (see the lyrics of ‘Journey To Infernukeorreka’, and especially ‘Solitary Death In The Nocturnal Woodlands’). Percussion was never again allowed the kind of variation it shows here; the organic sense of riff interchange never did manage to work so magically again for the band; the sense of paused aural legendry never did come out again, except for a few far more veiled hints in the last decade.
II. Invoking the Majestic Throne of Satan
In their sophomore album, we hear Inquisition pressing the gas pedal in each song and riff. The absence of a sense of self-measurement is also accompanied by the band turning towards a single-minded, rather superficial expression of Hollywood-worthy allegiance to Satan. Despite this, there is still much to be said for the album, as the band was still musically connected to their work in their first album, and so the combination of speed lacing with the remnants of a deeper, more atmospheric adventure from the past produced a hybrid that displayed possibilities, even if more detached from the apparent spirit of the subject matter, because more superficial in its application.
III. Magnificent Glorification of Lucifer
Next is a solidification and attenuation of the forces that drive Inquisition. Their third album plays like a weakened, even less interesting version of their second, with extremely lame and unnecessary leads making comic appearances here and there. The weakening comes in the form of attempts to introduce mid-paced passages, which could presumably have emulated the effects of the first album. However, these passages are applied with the same streamlined mentality or feeling that we get from their second album, and none of that sense of organic delving from the first album is anywhere to be seen here. None of the sense of occult discovery, of stumbling upon a ritual area soaked with the residues of sacrificial human blood. This album is also especially blatant in its use of overtly heavy rock riffing.
IV. Nefarious Dismal Orations
Like its stale title and the two albums preceding it, this here reaches the lowest, most confused point by Inquisition. Part of this confusion, however, comes from an almost imperceptible discovery of a new direction. A new direction, moreover, understood in the best sense, and not as a sudden change of heart that would see the band suddenly jump into a wholly different sub-genre. It is as if, finally, Inquisition were discovering how to integrate the sense of organic ritual and the speed-oriented impulses from their second album. In this sense, Nefarious Dismal Orations is a boring and terrible, yet also necessary album for the future awakening of Inquisition.
V. Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
This is the album in whichwe start to hear Inquisition’s “new sound” in full, with lots of riffs which could be fairly described as “meaningless”, and an emphasis on the alternation of frenetic sections and slow-grooving heavy sections. Here, moreover, there is a welling up of inspiration into a new vision, from superficially, and almost comically inspired satanism, to that of evil forces across the whole of the universe. This grand vision could in great part be reason for the noticeable re-energized, re-inspired tone of the music, that differs from the early one’s character, trading occult secrecy for a feeling of impending and overwhelming doom at the hands of dark entities ruling the vast cosmic landscapes that dwarf our planet, and make it little more than a stepping stone in the schemes of evil war gods. And while the stadium rock feeling is stronger than ever, it is driven forward almost ridiculously, blackened and completely subsumed under the impositions of Inquisition’s malevolent propaganda, thereby becoming an effective tool under black metal’s heel.
VI. Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
Building on their last album, Inquisition reaches its second career peak with a monolithic presentation of their “new sound”. In here, it becomes more difficult to partition songs, apart from the obvious tempo changes, a new unitary vision arising from a frenzy apt for a demented oracle channeling superior forces into a hypnotic and inhuman stare. Riff-wise, this is Inquisition at its most delectable, while structure-wise it may be considered its most compact, it stops short of being entirely pop, even if the band is clearly on the brink, heavily manipulating the situation so that the dark aura and the sensuous delivery of riffs can take precedence in its serpentine riff carving. Falling in 2013, it seems to be part of that year’s unexpected, collective breath in metal, when a kind of inspiration bore fruits, culminating around some point in 2014 (where we find this tide’s climax in Sammath’s Godless Arrogance).
VII. Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith
Having already assumed the most compact, perfected form of their “new sound”, Inquisition now extend towards a new application of the formula without yet being able to discover a new path. In here, there is a kind of setting down of the most recent accomplishment, consolidating into a form, and elaborating plainly within the newly defined parameters of the previous album. As such, this is undoubtedly a more eloquent album than the one before it, even if there is a sense of loss in terms of that pristine uniqueness that comes with the more visceral uprisings of what has just come. In other words, this newest album is a conscious repetition and application of past lessons. In this, Inquisition achieve a maturity that was not there before. That said, and in line with the band’s usual modus operandi, they have not strayed away far from what they discovered they could do in Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult.
Normally, we would be inclined to think that Inquisition was never of much promise, yet they have almost consistently delivered convincing, yet limited, dark atmospheres, and even if they did go through an all-time low with the rest of metal during the first decade of the 21st century. What Inquisition has proved is that it lives on and feeds of this perpetual existing in a strange void. Empty and directionless, more keeps gushing forth, with different details and insights passing through in between the lines, even when marred by the vulgarity of its choice of style, and which marring definitely limits and takes its toll on the music.
In conclusion, while not in any way presenting a respectable musical template, rather existing in a state of damnation sustained only by spirit, fortitude and a sense for darkness, Inquisition shows that the inner spirit of the music itself can take precedence victoriously, not its presumed philosophy, not the eroding commercialism that engulfs all, and certainly not the whims of general public. All of the latter have been conquered by Inquisition through their militant, yet aloof and exemplary, conduct rooted in the first. If such limiting musical choices can yield such results, what could a deeper musical dominion do coupled with the same piercing dark spiritual vision?