R’lyeh – In The Infernal Moment (2013) Review

In The Infernal Moment is the sound of a band that hasn’t yet divested itself of the heavy metal that it grew up with. Much in the vein of what countrymates The Chasm and Cenotaph were doing in the early 90s, R’lyeh play a moody variant of death metal peculiar to a certain section of South America, music simultaneously high on adrenaline and melancholy, in direct homage to the metal of the 80s yet very much cognizant of a new strain being brought into existence. R’lyeh are not a young band, having been around back in the day for a demo; refreshingly enough, the guys retain every last bit of the spirit of high adventure that must have been prevalent then. At times sloppy, at times meandering yet never less than fully committed to an ideal hopelessly romantic; wrestling with futility but eventually coming to terms with reality, this is death metal with a poet’s sense of tragedy.

Befitting of the band’s chosen imagery, In The Infernal Moment is an album of spaces, the reverberating production isolating instruments, creating distances where none exist yet managing to bring various elements together in harmonic unity. Dark melody is as important a part of R’lyeh‘s arsenal as conventional death metal riffing, at times expressing itself through brief serpentine bursts, at others taking shape in flamboyant but tastefully placed lead guitars over ringing doom chords, evincing a distinct gothic sensibility. Judicious use of keys and acoustic guitars is made towards the record’s climax, establishing a steady gradient as the album wears on; an initial mauling reminiscent of first wave black metal gradually lapses into something with a little more gravity, be it the incessant, hypnotic drone of ‘Carnal Abominations’, the almost shamanistic, folksy overtures on ‘In The Forest’  or the epic closer ‘The Devourers Of Space’ that moves through a wide range of flavours in its eight minute length. R’lyeh show admirable mastery and restraint – but the two are always synonymous – over the various old forms, creating a near perfect specimen of everything good about this style of death metal.

Above all else, it is the band’s honesty and dedication to a musty art form that shine the brightest. R’lyeh aren’t hopping on to any trends; In The Infernal Moment isn’t an Incantation copycat, or a Swedish clone. Not an indistinguishable slop of mush posturing as evil even. This is genuine old metal of death with a shrieking soul.

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