In these heady downloading days, it's hard to give an unknown album the attention it sometimes needs to reveal all its facets. Upon a cursory listen, U.S. blackened metallers INFERI seem to fall into that gaping maw of decent, somewhat derivative bands borrowing from Norwegian black metal and Gothenburg death/thrash to create an American homage, not far removed from what, say, BLACK DAHLIA MURDER are doing. But after a couple spins of "The End of an Era", you start to realize just how damn blistering fast this band is cooking along at any given moment, and how many frilly solos and exquisite little guitar runs they're effortlessly tossing into the mix at 900 miles per hour. Virtuoso precision at lightning speed may not seem like enough to set a band apart, but INFERI do it so well, it's scary.
Not that there aren't occasional bits of slow, imperious majesty — one begins "The War Machine Embodiment", for example, and it lasts all of eighteen seconds before the song kicks into high gear. Add beats that shift from thrashing polka to chugging double-kick to frenetic blasts, and throw in the old high-then-low DM vocal trick, and you get songs with a lot of fury and flash to them, and the rudiments of the band's own emerging personality amid the pristine black and death metal convention on slavish display here. Just try not to be impressed with the guitar interplay (and bass solo!) of the album's centerpiece, the shredding eight-minute instrumental "The Warrior's Infinite Opus" — fluid runs and scorching leads that, in a perfect world, would have these guys on the covers of guitar magazines. Jaw-dropping stuff!
Bottom line, if you like your black metal squeaky-clean, impeccably played and produced, insanely fast and reliant on blazing guitars to provide frills and thrills, INFERI will please you mightily. There's some serious talent and chops at work here, and an emerging sense of dynamics and arrangement that could make these guys a leading light in the scene, if they can get enough attention to stand out from the hordes. Get into them now and impress all your friends with your ear for the next big thing.