Four years after we last heard an album from them, German/Austrian black metal band Infestus has returned with Thrypsis. The brainchild of mastermind and sole member Andras, Thrypsis blends the emotional punch of black metal with the technicality of prog metal and the atmospheric qualities of doom metal for a record that’s as atmospheric as it is aggressive.
The album opens almost gently with a gentle clean guitar line to start off the first track, “Of Unhallowed Soul”. Once the guitars kick in properly, though, it’s an absolute winner, weaving powerful riffs with several more melodic guitar lines. Andras’ powerful, anguished vocals make an excellent finishing touch. A crystal-clear production allows all of these distinct elements to work together effectively, without losing any of the effect of the harmonies. This attention to detail gives Thrypsis a very cohesive feeling throughout, so it never feels like you’re losing any part of the atmosphere in the mix.
Second track “Thron Aus Trummern” opens with stately, gothic guitars contrasted with frantic kick drums. It’s a long track, but the length serves to show off Andras’ skills as a songwriter, as he weaves riffs and melodies together to create songs that are cohesive, yet travel to diverse enough places to keep a listener interested for up to nine minutes. By midway through “Thron Aus Tummern”, the band’s already shifted from a neo-gothic introduction, into a classic black metal verse reminiscent of bands like Satyricon, and back to a softer, atmospheric bridge. There’s common elements across each section, but part of the fun of a song like this is seeing where those elements will go, and on that front Infestus more than delivers. Just when you think they’ve run out of ideas and finished, they pick up from the fake outro to deliver an elegant closing verse, fading out to a piano reprise of the guitars from earlier.
“Seed of Agony” is another long journey, paying homage to classic black metal with its’ intense tremolo riffs and drumming. The formula here is quite similar to “Thron Aus Trummern”, with the black metal verses broken up by piano-heavy atmospheric moments. It’s not quite as smoothly executed as “Thron Aus Trummern”, but the style still works well here. The following track, “Nights” is shorter and (for the most part) a bit softer than the preceding tracks, but the dark atmosphere of Thrypsis is especially pervasive here, as pulling back on the heavier elements highlights the melancholy lyrics and dissonant musical elements, especially in the ending piano fadeout. Whether it works for you probably depends on your thoughts on spoken vocals, which are very present here.
“Psychonecrosis” trends back towards classic black metal with a relatively aggressive intro and powerful drumming. Even so, the aggression gives way eventually to dark atmospheres before transitioning back and forth again. Although “Psychonecrosis” is a long song, it has the same shifting quality as the songs before, and it doesn’t linger on any one theme long enough for the listener to get bored. The next song, “Pulse of Annihilation” is an inversion of sorts, with melancholy clean guitars bracketing a classic black metal middle that’s reminiscent of old-school Scandanavian black metal. The softer guitars and piano are recurring elements here, lending this album both some breathing room and a variety of textures that’s sometimes absent in black metal. Album closer “Separatist” has an old-school Amorphis meets black metal vibe that brings the album to a suitably dark finish.
Overall, Thrypsis is a dark, yet beautiful album with a powerful sense of place. Andras balances a wide range of elements into a cohesive whole, and does so in a way that leaves the user wanting far more than we get here. You can check Thrypsis out for yourself on October 5, and if you’re a black metal fan, you owe it to yourself to take a look.