German black metal shadow Infestus expands blackness, chaos on ‘The Reflecting Void’

InfestusWe often describe records as journeys people can take when they listen to the music. But bands also can be looked at as sojourns, with members coming and going, ideas changing, sounds going through a metamorphosis, and the purpose switching faces.

German black metal entity Infestus actually can claim their records and their band both serve as adventures in their own right. Ever since the dissolution of Dunkelfront in 2003, Infestus rose from the ashes and started making righteous noise. The band was comprised of multi-instrumentalist Andras (he was known as Moloc in Dunkelfront and played drums), guitarist Harbarth, and vocalist Dagon, and they released a 2003 demo and a debut full-length record “Worshipping Times of Old” in 2004. Soon thereafter, Harbarth left the fold, and Andras took over all instrumentation, with Dagon remaining the vocalist. The duo released one more record, 2008’s “Chroniken des Ablebens” before Dagon also dropped out of the project. That left Andras on his own, which is how he remains, creating 2011’s incredible, landmark “E x | I s t” and now returning three years later with “The Reflecting Void,” an even more realized record musically and philosophically. Andras seems to be at his high point creatively.

Infestus coverAs noted, Infestus’ records always have been compelling documents, where it’s tough to pull out a song here or there and instead standing as albums that need to be digested in full. Maybe that’s frustrating to the Spotify audience that likes to jump back and forth from song to song, band to band, but Infestus requires a commitment. And if you are along for the ride and choose to be enraptured by the band’s brand of darkness, you are rewarded handsomely. “The Reflecting Void” is a great example of that, and along with the idea of your devotion to the record paying off, anyone who has followed Infestus throughout the years is certain to be fulfilled as the music never has sounded this huge, ambitious, and stimulating. The record goes far beyond black metal into the atmosphere, with thought-provoking melodies, moments of eerie darkness, and even some vocals that get away from the creaky shrieks, though just in doses.

“A Dying Dream” opens the record with noise humming before guitars rise up into a doomy lather, and sorrowful lead lines support the song’s dark essence. The drama builds along with the song, as Andras growls his words, and the final moments of the song bleed out into silence. “Spiegel der Steele” follows with charged-up guitars, mean and harsh playing, and some clean melodies trickling underneath the chaos. The pace goes back and forth, from tranquil to tumultuous, with the end leaving a mist of strangeness. “Constant Soul Corrosion” has a clean, watery intro, with Andras whispering over the dreamy sequence, but just when it seems it’ll stay along this pace, the song explodes, igniting the fury and unleashing compelling anguish that is thick and real. Andras returns to his quiet vocals as the song winds down, with one last blast of power left to finish off the piece. “Cortical Spreading Darkness” explodes out of the gates, with violence and savagery, cascading melodies, and tons of shifts from atmospheric back to volcanic. The song slips into heavy chugging, with Andras desperately calling, “Save me!” with the last bit of the track being treating with noise whir and spacey transmissions.

“Fractal Rise of the Fall” is a thrashy, cosmic-minded instrumental track, the shortest of the bunch at 2:35, and then it’s on to “Innere Reflexion,” a song that opens with punishing galloping, a serious mean streak, and drums that sound like they are programmed to kill. The music becomes exploratory at points, with the song sprawling and searching in the shadows, with everything fading out into the night. “Devouring Darkness” wastes no time showing its intentions, going right for the throat with crushing blasts, devastating howls, and then a classically played part that brings the temperature back down. There is clean singing at some points, whispered growls at others, and rich, textured guitar work that is flush with bleeding emotion. Closer “Origin” has a prog-fueled first few minutes before it launches into a sinister section containing bloodthirsty playing and growling, more tempo changes that dip and boil back up again several times, and everything leading to an abrupt ending that sucks the air right out of the room, leaving you wondering what the hell happened. It’s a bit of a letdown, the way it just ends like that, but perhaps that’s by design to get you off the track one final time.

Andras is operating at a high level with Infestus, and “The Reflecting Void” is the most immersive of all of the records in the band’s catalog. While “E x | I s t” may have gripped harder and been edgier and darker, this record expands that thinking and goes for more colors and shapes, more ways to get your brain working. It’s an album to which you should devote your time and energy so you can understand its mission completely. It might help you see into worlds and planes of existence you didn’t know exist, even if that discovery happens only in your imagination.

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