Hellfenlic by The Infernal SeaRelease date: January 26, 2024
Label: Candlelight Records
The original satanic panic, led by the likes of Matthew Hopkins in his zealous pursuit of witches, has long been a bountiful well that many bands have dipped into for inspiration. The Witchfinder General is once again the central character as The Infernal Sea, who hail from the same flats that the man terrorised centuries ago, retell his tales of maniacal self-pious expunging through the medium of black metal on Hellfenlic.
The music is as old school as the subject matter. Punk-infused darkness is wrapped in a production that is as closed and claustrophobic as the early purveyors of the genre used to peddle. The result is initially unsettling, tinged with a knowing smile at the nostalgic nod; yet the further in we delve, the less satisfying it becomes. There is ultimately little here to distinguish Hellfenlic from thousands of similar offerings spanning decades.
That’s not to say that The Infernal Sea haven’t produced a good album – this is, as likes of ‘The Hunter’ blast through with reckless abandon prove; it merely fails to make any lasting impression amid the vast mire of homogony, and adds nothing new to either discourse. The ride is a blast, all claws and horns and headbanging: however even after ‘Messenger Of God’ finally sees them stretch their legs right at the death, the desire to jump back in again is missing.
The charm of Hellfenlic is its unabashed love of black metal’s history, with The Infernal Sea once again showing themselves to be proficient necromancers. For some that will be enough, yet for others it will merely be another one tossed into the pond, forgotten along with the rest once it sinks.