The best bands on the planet always sound like far more than the sum of their parts. In an ideal scenario, you should be in complete disbelief that the incredible noise you’re hearing is coming from just three or five dudes. Inquisition are even more of a special case, because they’ve defined themselves by making some of the best raw and orthodox black metal to come from the United States – and there’s only two of them.
Their earlier works are a testament to the longevity of no-frills black metal with incredibly long and cumbersome album titles, but their most recent work (Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm) showed them progressing in a different direction, incorporating quieter passages, rhythmic changes in tempo, and even a few guitar solos! That may be borderline blasphemous as far as black metal is concerned, but the music was just too good to discount. With their new release, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, Inquisition have further increased the scope of their sound and created what’s quite possibly their best album yet.
The first things that a casual fan will notice is that this album almost sounds like a sequel to Ominous Doctrines in tone, spirit, and lyrical themes. The subject matter returns once again to the void of outer space, because nothing’s blacker and colder than absolute zero. Dagon’s distinctive Popeye croaks sound as demonic as ever, and he even experiments with new and unique styles – the death metal roars are just as empowering as they need to be, but the Beherit-esque effects that pop up in places can be hard to take seriously. The flirtations with guitar solos are carried to their ultimate conclusion, where multiple songs are carried by a sweeping shredsterpiece that paints the night sky with an ultimate display of Satanic might – of particular note is “Inversion of Ethereal White Stars,” which is the most melodic and epic that the band’s ever sounded.
And while tremolo-picked and blast-beated passages still carry the lion’s share of the album, there’s even more diversion into slower grooves that approach the pace of doom metal’s funeral dirges (case in point: “Spiritual Plasma Evocation”). Each track flows with a brilliant sense of pacing and composition, which keeps the record from descending into the samey kind of bargain-bin blastbeat monotony that you’d find from contemporary acts. Inquisition have tuned their ears towards the atmospheric in places, and Dagon is no longer afraid of showing off his considerable shredding chops. But despite the addition of these new and unfamiliar elements, their sound still rings out as strong as ever. For every majestic and melodic exaltation, there’s an equal dose of roaring black metal fury to remind you they haven’t grown any weaker.
If you’ve neglected to check out one of the best American black metal acts alive, this is your best chance to do so. Obscure Verses is accessible, but still dangerous; clear, but still dark; and innovative, but still standing on the shoulders of giants. The few trv kvlt black metal purists left will decry the clear production and increased compositional aptitude on display here, but they can go suck a frost giant’s giant frosty dong. All Hail the Ancient Cult.
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