Fenland black metallers The Infernal Sea look to continue the great, bleak work of Britain’s finest black metal bands with their recent signing to the legendary Cacophonous Records, home of Cradle of Filth and Bal-Sagoth in the past, among others. ‘The Great Mortality’ is due to be released on the 19th of February, a release that could see them join the blackened elites of this fine nation,
Opener ‘Den Sorte Dod’ sets the scene perfectly, a swelling blackened nightmare of creeping evil. The musical equivalent of the cloying fog following the protagonist of the album’s doomed cover. ‘Way of the Wolf’ is a quintessential black metal song; blasting drums, shrieking growls and a thrumming tremolo guitar line. It feels like early Dimmu or Cradle, but without the piercing shrieks of Dani Filth. The grandiose ‘The Bearer’ has this ragged majesty to it, equal parts soaring black metal and flailing savagery. When it descends into an eerie, atmospheric section with lonesome acoustic guitar and rasping growls, you feel like you’re lost in an icy wood, beset by terrors on all sides.
The Infernal Sea nail traditional black metal atmospheres perfectly, setting that scene for each rabid delivery. ‘Pestmeester’ has the strange vibe to it, something I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s almost mid period Satyricon, but with an odd clean vocal that makes me feel uneasy. The blasting ‘Purification by Fire’ is a violent highlight, along with the positively virulent hatred burning at the heart of ‘Entombed in Darkness’.
When the mid tempo ‘Plague Herald’ guides you into the blackened gloom of ‘Brethren of the Cross’, you realised just what a wondrous experience this has been. The Infernal Sea exceed all expectations and ‘The Great Mortality’ will see them immortalised in the halls of stone where the greats of British black metal will sit. Guarded by demons, scorched by hellfire, dusted with ice. This will be difficult to beat as 2016’s finest slice of black metal.