Everyone’s favorite Nazi but not Nazi (see?) Colombian/Seattle black metal 2-piece is back with Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith. I have no idea what this band’s world views are aside from talking a lot about Celestial Magic Satan or something or other. All I know is that since I first heard 2013’s Obscure Verses for the Multiverse I have loved this band. With their latest work, Inquisition gives us some of their standard rippers, some older sounds from earlier in the band’s extensive career, and some wonderful and sometimes completely surprising new ground.
Bloodshed… as a whole sounds a lot dirtier than the prior fan-favorite record. This gives the album a more classic feel to it that further fleshes out just how freaking evil this band sounds. I know people make fun of front man Dagon’s vocals for sounding like a frog with strep throat. It may not be for some people, but I love this “croaking” vocal style. To me, Dagon’s vocals invoke images of an unearthly being projecting its thoughts over the human race. They are reminiscent of a 1950’s sci-fi movie with the leader of the invading alien race emerging from its spacecraft to address our world with a cold, unfeeling voice to announce that the end of mankind has come.
Dagon’s guitar work is another aspect of Inquisition’s signature sound that completely kills it on this record. He brought out a lot more of his old thrash style from earlier in Inquisition’s career, and it sounds fantastic. For the most part, the guitar sounds like it obviously belongs on a black metal album, but thrash and rock’n’roll elements are stronger than I have heard on an Inquisition record in forever. Like always, Inquisition brings the riffs.
Long-time drummer Incubus’s seemingly relentless death metal style blast beats take more of a backseat for much of Bloodshed… As with much of the guitar work on this album, more of the band’s early thrash roots shine through in Incubus’s drums. There is just as much galloping and stomping as blasting on this record.
“From Chaos They Came”, “Wings of Anu”, and “Vortex From the Celestial Flying Throne of Storms” all showcase the Inquisition that more recent fans have come to know and love. Blistering guitar, punishing drums, and hoarse, crackling vocals blaze with infernal hatred and despair with barely a moment’s pause. These are the tracks that we have come to expect from Inquisition and are what keeps us coming back. However, the things that propel this record to be in the running for my EOY list are the all the changes of pace Inquisition offer with more than half of the record.
“A Black Aeon Shall Cleanse” is a slower song for Inquisition. The dirty palm-muted chugging intro and outro made me kick my cubicle apart. Seriously, the outro is so nasty, it felt like it was building to the most epic breakdown *shudder* of all time. Instead, it builds into the next track, “Through the Divine Spirit of Satan a Glorious Universe is Known,” which is essentially a 5 minute circle pit that dances between aggressive thrash and black’n’roll.
“The Flames of Infinite Blackness Before Creation” is the standout track for me on this album. It features slow, expansive black metal riffs with mournful melodies. The tremolo guitar sways back and forth like meteors entering our atmosphere and streaking across the sky. When listening to this record, I stop and listen to this song three or four times before continuing on with the rest of Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith. The main riffs is one of my favorite black metal riffs of all time.
“Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith” is the only track which just confuses the crap out of me. The song is sweet, but it consists of 6 minutes of guitar soloing over top of mid-tempo double bass. This song just does not make sense for the album. It sounds like it was written to be played over a montage of people sky-diving or riding in hot air balloons. I don’t know if Dagon was attempting to channel his inner Dream Theater with this instrumental or even how it made it to the final cut. I mean, it’s cool. I just don’t get it.
All in all, Inquisition have cut an absolutely fantastic record. A lot of bands don’t deviate at all from their song-writing formula: especially when following up a record as beloved as “Obscure Verses for the Multiverse.” Inquisition tried multiple different paths in crafting this latest record, and they, for the most part, have delivered stellar performance.
– Josh Thieler
Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith is predicted to enter our atmosphere on August 26th through Season of Mist. For more information on Inquisition, visit the band’s official Facebook page.