#22: Inquisition - 'Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith'
Despite concocting one of the most ridiculous album titles of all time, being named after one of the worst things in human history, and vocals that utterly piss off the average human, Inquisition has created one hell of an album.
After a sort of "meh" intro track, tracks 2 and 3 "From Chaos They Came" and "Wings of Anu" verily charge out of the gates, two of my favorite metal tracks of 2016. Just top notch rocking going on here. And it is very metal too. The production sounds very dark to match the music and creative vibe.
This is the best sounding Inquisition album, and perhaps even the best release in their not-sparse discography. I have liked others of their's quite a bit in the past, but this one seems to take it to a new level. It is very encouraging to hear an artist progress and extend their creative vision with the benefit of experience and wisdom of one's craft. This is exactly that.
Unlike most extreme metal, 'Bloodshed Across the Empyrean..." is not a constant high speed loudness no-dynamics-to-the-roof sonic assault recording. There is an art to their aggression, like just about every great metal band. Toward the middle of the album the tempo and energy slows down, allowing for the buzz of the guitars to shine through more over a slowish midpace throb. These dynamics are very important in music, but even moreso in heavy metal, to set up the heaviness and give contrast to the extreme moments.
Rather than try to reinvent black metal like the 3rd wave of black metal bands mostly do, Inquisition improve upon the classic stylings of the past. I cannot think of an album better to introduce someone to black metal with, other than maybe a classic Emperor track. 'Bloodshed Across the Empyrean' has some very catchy moments, the production is dark but clear to the ear, and the songwriting has a classic sound to it, although I admit it is probably more ambitious than most old school black metal in that department.
Being a latecomer to the black metal genre (I was always more into the more obvious genres of death metal, grindcore, and industrial), Inquisition has been one of the biggest reasons I have warmed up to the subgenre. Extreme metal has become a rather large umbrella genre over the years, and it is cool to know each of its offshoots. The heavy metal crowd in general is probably a little too much on the traditionalist side, so it is very good that a band like Inquisition can sort of unite so many styles, even if it is just two dudes and a drum machine from the Pacific northwest.
Looking back upon 2016, this was actually one of my soundtracks to the summer (especially the aforementioned "Wings of Anu" and the title track!). It fit nicely in to where my life was at, my living situation, my job, etc. They are a light in their own oppressive darkness. A familiar concept for the frustrated, the darkly creative, the misanthropes and other misfits of the world that they are making music for, and themselves. Music is there to help get you by.