It’s been written at length, even in this space, about the varying long, strange trips that many US black metal musicians insist on taking the genre, often with mixed results. While the overt atmospherics and genre-bending can, at times, prove to be interesting and thought-provoking, it can also prove to be exhausting. Sometimes, especially where black metal is concerned, you just want that sonic gut-punch, that angel-raping blasphemy to shine through and not be buried in waves of misplaced and miscalculated experimentation. If it’s truly a world of grim, unabated loathing you are looking for then look no further than Rhode Island’s Bog of the Infidel.
From the smallest state in the union comes one of the largest blasts of seething nastiness you will hear this year in the form of Asleep in the Arms of Suicide, the new album from Bog of the Infidel. One would automatically expect and accept that if a band is going to give their album such a decidedly depressing title that the music contained within would match the hopelessness of the title. Mission accomplished here as Bog of the Infidel piece together a collection of songs that are as depressive as they are aggressive. That is to say that not only will this band punch you in the mouth, they’ll remind you that you’re one step closer to death every single day in the process.
Rooted somewhere under the spell of the earliest and most ferocious releases of black metal’s mighty second wave, Bog of the Infidel carve out songs that seem to simply devour chunks of soul in mesmerizing fashion. Songs like “Coils of the Noose” and “Eden” are as harsh and unforgiving as the icy grip of death itself, steeped in transfixing tremolo picking and unholy blasts of cacophony. This is a band unafraid to simply lay waste to everything in their path in the most blasphemous ways possible.
Yet, Bog of the Infidel is no one-trick pony either. There’s the melodic, Dissection/Gothenburg sound that occasionally creeps into tracks like “Deum” or “Black Awakening/Nepenthe.” There’s the occasional thrash influence that erupts like a volcano, such as the ripping guitar solo on the track “Congregation of Judas.” And, of course, there’s the beautifully elegant and morose acoustic interludes that start off and dot the album, giving the listener a much needed reprieve to catch their breath before the punishment resumes. All told it comes together perfectly, like the pieces of a very frightening puzzle and what we are left with is one of the better black metal albums that will cross our paths this year.
Asleep in the Arms of Suicide is out now via Eternal Death Records. You can experience and purchase the album through the Eternal Death Bandcamp page. Bog of the Infidel will be hitting the road later this summer for a mini-tour with fellow New England, black metal miscreants, One Master. Lovers of all things extreme are urged to attend one of these unholy masses nearest you.