Infernum: Prelude to a New Reign

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One can tell a lot about a death metal/black metal band's musical outlook by the way its live performances affect a mosh pit. Death metallers who can keep a pit going at full speed throughout an entire set tend to play at the same tempo -- ultra-fast -- 100 percent of the time, whereas death metallers who cause a pit to slow down a lot tend to vary their tempos. If this studio effort is representative of what the group does on-stage, Unearthly is the sort of band that causes a pit to operate at different speeds and different levels of intensity. For all its brutality, Infernum: Prelude to a New Reign is more musical than a lot of death metal/black metal releases. Brute force is a main ingredient of this CD, which has enough fast tempos to make moshers happy. But Unearthly also has a sense of melody, and the band changes tempos frequently -- so frequently, in fact, that the Brazilian outfit would cause a pit to go wild one minute and slow down the next. The least musical thing about Unearthly is lead singer Lord Thoth's screeching vocal style, which renders the band's lyrics (all of which deal with Satanism and the occult) hard to understand unless one refers to the lyric sheet. Infernum would have been more effective if the lyrics weren't difficult or impossible to make out, but then, some would argue that Thoth's vocals aren't really about conveying a message -- they're about maintaining an evil-sounding ambience, and therefore accomplish what they set out to accomplish. Unearthly isn't terribly distinctive; from South America to Scandinavia, there are plenty of other death metallers doing this type of thing. But Infernum, despite its imperfections, is still a likable, exhilarating disc if one has a taste for extreme metal.

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