Infernal Majesty

None Shall Defy

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One of those borderline albums marking the transition from thrash to death metal (other notable examples being Possessed's Seven Churches and Sadus' Illusions, to name but two), Infernal Majesty's 1987 debut, None Shall Defy, should not be dismissed offhand because of its hilariously childish cover art. Yes, it features what looks like a gremlin king as drawn by a ten-year-old kid (and may well have been!), but the music itself is pretty damn good; not brilliant in the larger scope of metal history, but solid enough to demand one not judge the book by its cover, okay? And, although it would be easy to write off guitarists Steve Terror and Kenny Hallman's slightly sludgier guitar tones and vocalist Chris Bailey's grunt-like screams as the result of lousy recording (as much as intentionally visionary proto-death metal), there's no arguing with None Shall Defy's consistently challenging technical display at frequently slower tempos (all impressively driven by drummer/co-producer Rick Nemes), nor with the presence of those distinctly deathlike, horror-movie inspired lyrics. These were predominantly penned by the album's other co-producer, bassist Psychopath, fittingly enough, and if the presence of such an empowered rhythm section isn't already surprising for a metal band, the fact that almost half of None Shall Defy was made up of reworked songs from the band's demo sure is. Opener "Overlord" (actually, the band's original name) possessed a savage, almost N.W.O.B.H.M.-raw ferocity, the more protracted, mid-speed "Night of the Living Dead" was authentically zombie-like in its relentless advance, and "Skeletons in the Closet" boasted excellent guitar solo runs to go with its manic moshing. The sloppily arranged "S.O.S." could have been left behind, though, and among the new cuts, so too the tiresomely repetitive "Into the Unknown" and a pair of arguably unessential two-minute interludes ("R.I.P." and the schlock piece "Path of the Psycho"). No complaints whatsoever about the newly penned title track, "Anthology of Death," and, to a lesser degree, "Hell on Earth," however, as all of them displayed Infernal Majesty's increased maturity and improving melodic sensibility at work. Unfortunately, the band's critically involved rhythm section subsequently departed, and the remaining three members were unable to maintain Infernal Majesty's momentum, ultimately vanishing from public view for over a decade before making a halfhearted comeback.

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