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Infera Bruo - "Desolate Unknown" (CD)

Infera Bruo - "Desolate Unknown" CD cover image

"Desolate Unknown" track listing:

1. Visions of the Inner Eye (4:51)
2. Oblivion (8:02)
3. Segue I (1:36)
4. Ritual Within (13:06)
5. Dust of Stars (9:29)
6. Segue II (1:25)
7. Invoking Collapse (10:39)

Reviewed by on July 12, 2013

"'Desolate Unknown' confirms that Infera Bruo is one of the top acts the underground black metal scene has to offer in 2013."

Valuable black metal comes not just from blind rage and heightened noise, but the way bands can make sense of it all. There could be a hundred bands trying to produce an album on the level of “In The Nightside Eclipse” or “The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide,” but in doing so, aren’t able to make their own mark on the genre. Infera Bruo knows how to get the most promise out of their black metal, but it’s not acting as the most stubborn or depressing act out there. It’s by being “progressive,” which is not to say they handle their business like a blackened Dream Theater.

Progressive in this case symbolizes a vision that stretches the ideals of what constitutes black metal. This is a black metal band, no question, but the manner and style they engage in has a far more elusive presence. They aren’t as dense and unforgiving as a band like Ash Borer, but aren’t as infectious as a Kvelertak. Sounds culled from many sources gives the band a fascinating mystique that works to their advantage. Their 2011 self-titled release was a prime vantage point to build off of with “Desolate Unknown.”

“Desolate Unknown” is a true sophomore album; by “true,” we’re talking about a band that takes what their first album accomplished and blows it into new proportions. The production is improved, the push-and-pull between the melodic croons and harsh rasps is invigorating, and the keyboards/effects hold their own. The last aspect even gets two interludes to bind the album together, though the first one holds more relevance to the flow than the second one.

Though their debut album was a strong effort, what it lacked was a punchy start that got the listener to perk up and take notice. Infera Bruo doesn’t make the same mistake again, as “Visions of the Inner Eye” is a fireball made of seething fury. They don’t skimp on the more appealing aspects of their sound, with melodic vocals and a catchy break about three minutes in, but it’s buried by the audacious riffs and Anaal Nathrakh-ish energy. Though none of the other songs are as consistently brutal as this one, it’s still a great showing for their rawer aesthetics.

Infera Bruo reaches their high point when they push to lengths in the double digits. “Ritual Within” is one of the top black metal songs released so far this year, a 13-minute masterpiece that has the band at their most innovative. Acoustic guitars prove vital, as does the shifting tempos and ambiance created from the keys. The last minute is stunning, with a rousing vocal performance capped off by a nifty guitar solo.

Each of their more ambitious tunes has a different kind of effect on the listener. “Oblivion” is a slightly subdued effort that is great as a way to differentiate from the intense “Visions of the Inner Eye.” The bass guitar motivates the opening moments of “Invoking Collapse,” another contender for best song on the album. One of the ingenious decisions is to have the two vocal types bounce off each other, so one gets space to say what it needs to, and the other reaffirms the message by repeating the lines.

The idea of progressive black metal may throw off a few diehards, but this isn’t what most may think progressive mixing with black metal would sound like. There aren’t any cheesy keyboard solos or soaring wails; in fact, the melodic vocals are well-done and fit in seamlessly. “Desolate Unknown” confirms that Infera Bruo is one of the top acts the underground black metal scene has to offer in 2013.

Highs: Progressive black metal without any of the cheesier qualities of progressive metal, mix of melodic and harsh vocals is done well, "Ritual Within" is a top-notch song

Lows: First "Segue" works better than the second one

Bottom line: Infera Bruo proves with "Desolate Unknown" to be a top-tier black metal act that is only getting better.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)