Stream Vmthanaachth’s new terror experiment, Inferotemporal
Like some malevolent horror franchise villain, avant-chamber music ensemble Vmthanaachth have resurfaced from the briny abyss to drag you kicking and screaming through another roller coaster ride of contorted viscera and awe-inducing terror. Inferotemporal is more than just a simple sequel, however; the new album delivers all the structural complexities you’d expect from the byzantine works of the young composers, but it also ramps up the metal aspects and delivers some surprising hooks amid the sprawling morass of stringed instrumentation. Inferotemporal furnishes an equally thrilling and shocking experience, one that all fans of extreme music should endure.
If you listened to Fit Secundum Regulum, Inferotemporal‘s opening track will come as a bit of a shock to your system; “There Will Be Gates” opens amid a squall of electric guitar noodling that swiftly sweeps you up and sends you careening all catawampus through the young ensemble’s trademark storm of eclectic instrumentation. The guitar on this track is FURIOUS, recalling the controlled chaos of a Colin Marston project but housed in a decidedly (perhaps even bafflingly) less accessible space. Soon, though, the familiar saxophones, cello, electric and upright basses, synths, and more rear their ugly heads amid the guitar cacophony and remind us that this is a gnarled work of Cyclopean composition more akin to experimental classical music than technical metal. If that fact wasn’t obvious enough, the absolutely killer and dynamic transition between the guitar and bass to the cello in “Thallophytic Recrudescence” drives the point home that this is a many-headed, many-hued hydra.
The real centerpiece of this album, however, is the labyrinthine middle track “Benthos.” Although the track appears deceptively simple, featuring a primary guitar subject that drones along for an extended period in the first and last thirds of the track with instrumental variations heaving and seething off the primary melodic lines periodically like grotesque, cancerous growths, the middle third is a monstrous work of improvisation in C Minor. More notable, however, is the reappearance of vocals from Abysmal Growls of Despair‘s Hangsvart over the improvised bedlam. Though Hangsvart’s reptilian bellows first surfaced on the previous track, “Thallophytic Recrudescence,” his performance becomes downright saurian on “Benthos.” His slowly waxing growls mount like an ancient, atavistic dragon rising angrily from a fitful slumber, belching miasma with every rancid breath. It’s a vocal performance that wouldn’t be out of place on a classic 90s death metal record, and the song’s guitar-centric theme’s return in the final lap of the song recalls that very metal genre at its most depraved and inhuman.
If “Benthos” doesn’t make you a believer, I’m not sure what will.
The magnitude of “Benthos,” the surprisingly somber melancholy of “Music for the Move Nine” and its weeping violin, and the suffocating density of “Holographic Speleothems Firsting a Hugeness of Twilight” would mean little, however, if listening to Inferotemporal wasn’t an enjoyable endeavor. Thankfully, that contradictory catchiness I alluded to earlier appears frequently across the obsidian Knossos that is this record, and those fleeting moments when you find a handhold amid the muck become ever more enjoyable. Take that steadfast guitar drone in “Benthos,” for example. It may be buried beneath a mountain of bone and sinew, but it’s there, beating its sanguine heart and calling you home through the maze. The album is full of little moments just like this, buried treasures to reward listeners brave enough to wander into the dragon’s lair.
More impressive, however, is the ensemble’s uncanny ability to pique your curiosity. One of the few common threads among my favorite metal albums ever is the compelling, captivating intricacy. Take …And Justice for All, for example. I’ve been listening to that album regularly for well over a decade now, and I still feel that every time I listen to it I find some new dark corner, some hidden sigil in the edifice that I missed last time, something lurking just beneath the surface, waiting for me to find it. Inferotemporal, though daunting in its complexity, is merely a massive tangle of compelling threads, and it’s beyond rewarding to simply pick one simple line and follow its development across the album. While listening to “Holographic Speleothems Firsting a Hugeness of Twilight,” I would pick a guitar trail here, a cello line there, and I would follow them until some new wonder caught my gaze. I’m certain that each new listen will find me following a new thread, enjoying another jaunt through a hidden corridor in a familiar land. Split apart like this, the intricacy of the record becomes not a challenge but a joy, a thrill to unravel and explore.
For all its horror, Inferotemporal is a surprisingly fun trip through the schlock, and I’m pleased as hell that you get to stream it now.