Album Title: Magnificent Glorification of Lucifer
Label: No Colours
This is the third full-length from Inquisition, a Columbian band (though currently based in the USA). They play solemn, ritualistic black metal.
The sound here is exactly what one would expect from Inquisition. The guitar alternates between rhythmic backing patterns and high-toned accent parts. There's a strong sense of integration here, as the guitar seems to flow from one to the other, without a single awkward transition. There are also some distinctive solo parts here and there. The drums are great, as well. They really shine during some of the slower passages, like the middle section of "Crush the Prophet", but the drumming here is also capable of speed. The quick-march drum pattern in "Dark Mutilation Rites" is the best thing about the song, for example.
Then, there's the vocals. I usually devote just one paragraph to all of the instruments together, but Dagon's vocals are so damn good that they deserve to be mentioned on their own. The main style is a languid, slow sort of croak. It sounds almost uninvolved, as if the band are supremely confident in the effect of their invocations, so much so that more active vocals are unnecessary. The pace of Dagon's delivery fits perfectly with the music, strengthening the ritualistic feel of the album. The second vocal style has an otherworldly, quivering quality to it. I'm not sure if this is achieved via effects, other than the obvious echo, but it's definitely a cool sound. This style is used sparingly, as a counterpoint to the main style, but it's good enough that it could also stand on its own. Inquisition have two unique vocal styles, whereas most bands can't even claim one!
Inquisition's songwriting is equally original. The band's distinctive sound hasn't changed, but this new album shows a good deal of evolution within that sound. "Invoking the Majestic Throne of Satan" was a bit sterile, but "Magnificent Glorification of Lucifer" has a more dynamic, energetic feel to it. The truly impressive thing is that the band has integrated these dynamic melodies without destroying the slow, inevitable atmosphere that they're known for. "Winds of Fire" and "Impaled" are a good deal more aggressive than anything from "Invoking...", but this doesn't seem to interrupt the flow of the album.
Much of the time, "ritualistic black metal" may as well be a synonym for "boring guitar drone with not much emphasis on the METAL", but Inquisition is definitely a band that understands the value of a memorable riff. The three-song sequence of "Crush the Jewish Prophet", "Under the Black Inverted Pentagram", and "Of Blood and Darkness We Are Born" is a perfect example. Each song is distinctive, catchy, and heavy as hell. These songs couldn't be more different: the cold, direct blasphemy of "Crush...", the weird, unsettling rhythm of "Under the Black..." and the triumphant courage of "Of Blood and Darkness...". Just one of these songs would have been an excellent cornerstone for the album, so the sequence of all three is powerfully striking. The rest of the album is just as memorable. The songs range from calm and measured ("Magnificent Glorification of Satan", "Eternal Loyalty") to vicious ("Impaled"), and every moment is completely convincing. Discounting the boring outro, there isn't a bit of filler on this album.
"Magnificent Glorification of Satan" can't quite de-throne Inquisition's classic, "Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult", but it comes much closer than I'd ever expected. This album makes "Invoking..." sound boring by comparison, and that's no easy task. Inquisition's new one is a must-have, easily one of the best albums of 2004. Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "Crush the Jewish Prophet", "Under the Black Inverted Pentagram", "Of Blood and Darkness We Are Born"