As we tumble off into the last months of 2018, we have another album review for the #IntoThePitUniverse! This one is from the Nashville, TN death metal group, Inferi. Their latest release, Revenant, is being distributed by the music label, The Artisan Era in two different formats. There’s a standard version with vocals by Inferi’s lead singer, Stevie Boiser, and an Instrumental version which quite frankly, I prefer over it’s counterpart. That’s not taking anything away from the insanely talented artistry of Boiser, it’s more of a musical preference having dabbled in instrumentation myself. Both collections are receiving a great response from metal fans overall, but let’s take this review to recap the instrumental version of Revenant. I think it’s time to appease those of us at the party who favor shredding solo’s and throat punching kick drums over the latter.
Let’s dive in.
From a general point of view, there was rarely a dull moment for me listening to this album. Even in the soft, melodic moments of the project, there was usually some element you could cling onto until the next transition. Throughout all 9 songs of the collection, there was always something exhilarating and fresh on the horizon of the next piece. Guitars were the key instruments holding the album together as a whole providing not only the occasional rhythmic mood setting but more often than not the shredding death core riffs most fans enjoy the most from Inferi. Bass guitars followed suit, keeping up with the often fast pace of the partnering pieces. Drum patterns were absolutely off the charts as far as diversity and difficulty go. The drum performance made sense in matching the intensely energetic atmosphere created by the guitar performances. Randomly, there were a few sections sprinkled throughout this album that I couldn’t quite connect to musically. It’s apparent that the musicians of Inferi are insanely talented, and boasting over 20 years of experience, rightly so. With that being said, even the most talented of musicians and bands have a few 4 to 8 measure sections that may fall shy of musical genius. There were a few throughout this project where the melodic progressions seemed forced, but were quickly smoothed out by the following transition. These parts were momentary lapses, nothing that would keep me from recommending the album to a death-metal lover. All in all, the production on this album was impressive to say the least.
Production Score: 4.6/5
Into The Mix:
Inferi’s instrumental album held together fairly well from a mix standpoint. Having vocals removed allows for the listener to truly immerse themselves into the project without having to think nearly as much. Deciphering lyrics and conceptualizing the meaning behind them takes up a lot of bandwidth in the brain when hearing music in realtime. Listening only to the instrumentation allows listeners to truly be absorbed by the sounds they’re receiving. When each song has a quality mix behind them, it opens up a range of feeling and emotion the instrument alone would fall short of creating. Choosing the ideal reverb, filter effect, equalization and compression setting all matter to how the end listener receives this album. The mixing engineer(s) on this project maintained a consistent sonic balance leaving each instrument in it’s own stereo placement for a majority of the record. Rarely did any frequencies clash between instruments which allowed for every element to be heard when focused on. My only quarrel with the mix on this album would reside primarily with the kick drum. Microphone techniques for the kick of a drum set usually involve a mic in front of the head for the beater and a mic in the back for the thud resonance of the actually kick. It’s difficult to tell if it’s the microphone selection, placement, or the mixing after the fact, but the kick drum consistently sounds thin in my listening references. A prominent beater does wonders for fast double kick rhythms, but for more spaced out patterns, it starts to resemble the bounce of a basketball. A mixing engineer’s goal should be to find the sweet spot between those two elements of the kick. It just wasn’t done successfully on this album. Regardless, Revenant (Instrumental) maintained a consistent and clear mix for the majority of the album.
Mix Score: 4.3/5
A Mastered Experience:
Having been on both ends of the mastering process, there’s one thing that I look for when critiquing a mastered record or project..
Can I listen to this project from top to bottom and it sound cohesive all the way through?
Seeing that Revenant (Instrumental) has a quality master on the project from start to finish, I would say yes. The album is loud, punchy, and in your face. The LP still maintains a presence even in the softer and quite sections. This my friends is the work of a truly great mastering limiter. It does have an interesting upper-mid range frequency response, which is probably due to it’s equalizing for the vocalized version. Instrumentation is often carved to make space for the vocals to prevent the masking or clashing of frequencies. It sounds as though the mastering engineer attempted to make up for this effect in the mastering process. He/She did a great job, it’s just a little obvious this was done in comparison to standard version with the vocals. There aren’t many bad thing to say about this master though, great work to all involved.
Master Score: 4.5/5
With their 4th long-form release on the books, this Nashville based metal group can be proud of this project. They’ve allowed for fans to consume not only the standard, vocalized album, but the instrumental version to showcase their artistry as a whole. It’s easy for listeners, especially in this era of music to focus on songs on a general basis instead of taking the time to dissect and consume the full artistry being laid in front of them. The dual release approach allows for listeners to do just that. With over 2 decades in the death metal game, Inferi shows no signs of slowing down. Revenant as an LP should be in the playlist of any death core fan, especially those who crave variety. Congratulations to Inferi and The Artisan Era for their 4th studio release, sincerely, the #IntoThePitUniverse.
Into The Pit Score: 4.4/5