Published Aug 24, 2016The duo of Dagon and Incubus have given us plenty of bewitching desecration hymns (and prolix album titles) since their debut almost 20 years ago, seemingly never lacking in consistent, quality riffs.
While many bands find themselves rehashing uninspired and stale bits from earlier, brighter twilights, Inquisition appeared all but creatively invulnerable, and their fifth full-length, released back in 2011, contained some of their best and most engaging material to date. Their seventh album, the mouthful Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith, doesn't quite maintain those lofty heights, but it's hardly a lost cause, either.
Following the intro, "From Chaos They Came" is a promising start, and Inquisition certainly make the early argument that they are quite their regular, extraordinary selves. Noticeably different than usual is the sound of Dagon's guitar, and the mix in general, which is clearer, brighter and devoid of that trebly haze-blanket sound from past work; make of this what you will.
After the aggressive but underwhelming "Wings of Anu," fourth track "Vortex from the Celestial Flying Throne of Storms" is set on being a banger, an assault laden with melodic flourishes that are novel even for Inquisition. From this point on, however, the album loses its ability to keep the listener captivated.
Tracks such as "The Flames of Infinite Blackness Before Creation," as well as the title track, sort of meander at a slower pace. There's nothing downright bad, neither is much of it particularly moving. Perhaps the most interesting track of the latter half is "Through the Divine Spirit of Satan a Glorious Universe Is Known," on which Inquisition explore some post-black metal sounds, injecting some much needed fascination, even if it's out of pure digression.
Although certainly not the strongest output from the band, Inquisition demonstrate they're still capable of producing at least a modicum of satisfying tracks on Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith; it may well be that their next album sees them return to form as unmercifully powerful as ever. (Season of Mist)