Infester – To The Depths … In Degradation (1994)
Not all that much has been written on Infester, but they’ve probably received more coverage than bands of similar intent and notoriety. Some people say they have extreme right wing political leanings. Some say they’re just a REALLY filthy death metal band. Others praise the structure of their compositions. The latter was what convinced me to check this out, because there’s surely no shortage of particularly debauchery flavored extreme metal, or controversial lyrical/philosophical topics in this world.
It’s a bit bizarre of me to say this, perhaps, but all those three interpretations I suggested? My listening suggests they’re all true. This album does have particularly nasty lyrics about violence and sex (not all of it consensual), although nothing appears to be openly pro-Nazi; which is a relatively common accusation. However, none of it has the tongue in cheek humor you’d associate with Carcass, amongst others. After reacting to that in some fashion, most people, myself included turned to the production. It’s somewhat lo-fi – the guitar is the main culprit, as it has this thin tone that occasionally makes it hard to pick out the notes being played when combined with the downtuning. There are also some keyboard parts – generally of the basic harmonic reinforcement type, and they are similarly thin sounding and low fidelity. At times, the production reminds me of a more extreme Soulside Journey by Darkthrone; I wouldn’t be surprised if the members of this band listened to that one (or for that matter Darkthrone’s black metal albums, particularly Under a Funeral Moon).
The early Darkthrone comparison seems particularly apt not only on the surface aesthetic level, but in terms of how Infester constructs their songs. Tempos are varied – there are significant amounts of blastbeats, but also many slower sections. It’s also similarly monophonic in its instrumentation, therefore relying on vocal rhythms and riff structures to differentiate its songs. The absolute number of riffs in any given song isn’t all that high, but the way songs are structured, each ‘section’ has its own set to work with. Again, this sort of minimalist approach is fairly reminiscent of early black metal, even when the aesthetics differ. The band occasionally also uses melodic sections for further diversity – perhaps the best early example of this is the first slow section on “Chamber of Reunion”.
Anyways, if it weren’t for this album sounding much more like Suffocation or Autopsy than Burzum or Enslaved, I’d perhaps be willing to call this a fusion of black and death metal. Some of the early ’90s Norwegian scene members, to be fair, were reacting to what they percieved as an increasingly technique-oriented, polished approach in extreme metal. Perhaps Infester was doing the same, as this is a lot filthier and sparser than much of the other death metal of the time, while still arguably more extreme than what preceded it. Whether you like this one is really a question of what approach to the genres you prefer.
Highlights: “Chamber of Reunion”, “Braded into Palsy” (sic), “A Higher Art of Immutable Beauty”