I’ll open this review plainly: VII is completely nuts. As a stranger to black metal for the most part, I wasn’t sure what to expect going forward, worried as to whether or not I would find a fury of redundancy and monotony that I’ve found through my dabbles in the genre. Instead, I found a complexity that I rarely hear at this level, intertwined with the symphonic and theatrical facets that make VII so ambitious and entertaining.
Into Infernus prepare you for VII with “Valaria Imperium”, a symphonic starter that feels ominous and sets the mythological and fantastical thematic element of the rest of the album. “Eden’s Lustful Tale” immediately follows in a flood of blast beats, piercing high-pitched screams posed against bellowing lows that resonate alongside more orchestral instrumentation. Most noted is the dampened piano melodies that escalate with monumental guitar lines elucidating the cinematic aspect that was established by “Valaria Imperium”. The final moments of the track though install the progressive nature of VII and demand your attention with its venture into a more djent-like rhythmic pattern.
For some songs, there will be clear divisions with tracks such as “Gluttonous King Nimi”, sticking to its black metal roots while others like “Unseeing Wrath of Baptise Lycan” lean towards progressive metal, with the intermission “KVLT” specifically showcasing its fanfare in a steady breakdown. Still, the fluidity in the compositions helps establish a sound without becoming overbearing while simultaneously appealing to a wider audience. Like “Eden’s Lustful Tail”, “A Ravens Greed” fuses the best of both worlds, ferociously asserting theatrical black metal in the vein of Opeth. It then quickly but subtly introduces metered progression by the end, transforming it into a reprieve that would be fit for an Animals As Leaders and Meshuggah collaboration.
At the heart of this amalgamation are the three tracks that include guest solos, “Sloth Is the Soul of Dante”, “Envy of Enzo’s Villainous Self”, and the closing track “Pride of Frey Valor”. The names alone evoke a sense of mysticism that unfolds upon play-through. “Sloth…” features a sludge metal opening that immediately intensifies to the album’s strongest technicality, specifically in the drumming department. Anthony DiGiacomo’s contribution fills the bridge with groove and style that translates back into a piano flare that closes the song with a staccato breakdown, becoming one of my favorite moments of the entire album. “Envy…” opens with a solemn orchestral segment that is reminiscent of a medieval memorium; the procession that follows afterward is filled with a sense of anger and vengeance invigorated by Ricky Lee Roper’s solo. “A Living, Breathing Hell” becomes the last break on the album, sounding much like a preparation zone in a video game before facing the final boss.
Thereafter, all hell breaks loose on “Pride”, a sterling summation of the outlandish, the cleverly composed and the sheer talent featured on VII. Clocking in at just under 10 minutes, the evolution of the track is stunning, moving from a breakneck speed to the dissection of odd-metered prog metal – nodding again to Meshuggah with hints of earlier TesseracT instrumentally – right back to straightforward black metal with orchestral elements weaving in and out. Moments later, listeners get a taste of symphonic doom metal that is revitalized seamlessly to the hybrid Into Infernus have documented throughout the entire album, right until Patrick Pintaville’s solo fuses in some classic metal stylings as the album culminates to one last theatrical climax.
By the end of it all, the versatility just resonates through and through, providing a replayability that I have found lacking from the glimpses of the genre I have experienced. The complexities of the musical composition fit damn near perfectly with the mythological conceptualization. The orchestral renditions alone could very well fit into the soundtrack of series such as Devil May Cry, Dark Souls, Castelvania and the like – part of the charm that makes VII so much fun.
At the same time though, there are nuances scattered about that kept me from fully enjoying the songs, though my main gripe can be directly attributed to the regular tone of the screamed vocals: not that they’re bad by any means, but it’s not a style that fits completely for me. Same with some of the arrangements of songs – tracks like “Eden’s Lustful Tail” and “A Ravens Greed” have identical structures. Once considered with the whole of the album, these similarities can be a bit disorienting or repetitious at times, but never enough to damage the individual songs themselves.
Be that as it may, these complaints may just be my partial unfamiliarity to the genre as a whole and should not to be taken too heavily since the remaining aspects of the album range from relentlessly intense to undeniably clever, a particular feat to consider especially since the album was written and crafted at home in just 10 days.
In the end, Into Infernus have created a massive album, one that demands a follow-up – if not for the further exploration of talented musical composition, then for the sheer insanity and theatricality that will surely follow.
You can buy VII on Into Infernus’ Bandcamp.