Infamous – Winter Ruins in Howling Mist (2019)

Infamous contributed two tracks to the split CD/EP with Cmentarny Zew, Thorncastle and Ordo Sanguinis Noctis named Winter Ruins in Howling Mist released by Darker Than Black Records. These songs demonstrate why Infamous remains at the head of the new brand of black metal, mainly by staying true not just to black metal, but to idea-driven music.

Infamous brings back the bittersweet mixture of aspiration and melancholy that makes black metal great. The first track, “Before the Storm,” saturates you first in a minor key melody with an ascending final segment to its phrase, then cycles through a counter-riff before returning to a variation on the initial melody which uses minor chords to emphasize the initial half of its phrase, while simultaneously using more intense percussion to underscore the sense of return in a new context. This gives the listener a sense of having been lost, but then having discovered clarity, where instead of rising out of the condition, they return to it with charging determination.

In contrast, the second song, “Ettau in sa Tumba de su Tempu,” starts with a fast riff similar to the initial phrase from the first album, but descending in nature, and then moves into a counter-riff that acts like a chorus, smoothing out the emotions with gentle harmony, before detouring into a slower phrase with faster strum that works through variants of the melody in the initial riff, over which a bass works out another melody for a subtle infusion of atmosphere. In true black metal form, the song trails off into a melancholic pattern which nonetheless asserts a strong identity and atavistic courage, then fades away with an acoustic riff that revisits familiar territory for those who enjoy the first three Infamous albums.

Ideally, someone will combine the Infamous albums and release the best of them as an album because, while this band knows how to make quality black metal, much of its material is highly similar. This does not detract from enjoying it, and gaining the sense that there is a spirit behind these songs, instead of another attempt to re-create the past through its techniques and imagery.

Black metal badly needs an infusion of new life to replacing its stagnating and now widely-emulated formula, which only worked because of the internal dialogue between riffs that gave it a voice and allowed it to narrate a journey from darkness to a disturbingly untrustworthy light back to a wisdom in darkness, and Infamous forges ahead where most fear to tread in this regard.

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3 thoughts on “Infamous – Winter Ruins in Howling Mist (2019)”

  1. So… like… this split is a couple good Infamous tracks, and three random quasi-NSBM bands with crappy logos? I’m in!

  2. Big Doo says:

    Sounds exactly like Satanic Warmaster.

  3. Chrised says:

    Melodious stuff here but I’d venture to say the vocal sounds like someone punching a plate reverb.

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