Album Review: The Infernal Sea – Negotium Crucis
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings
‘Negotium Crucis’ is a significant point in the musical journey of The Infernal Sea. Five years since their second album, ‘The Great Mortality’, the East Anglian four-piece have produced a piece of work that stands confidently alongside any other release of 2020 and certainly is vying for the top spot in the black metal category. ‘Negotium Crucis’ finds the band in explosive form, having expanded their repertoire whilst retaining the intense ferocity of their ‘Black n’ Roll’ style with which they are synonymous. ‘The Great Mortality’ saw the band explored the great plague of the middle ages. With such subject matter and their plague doctor masks, The Infernal Sea are a band for our times. The cloaked quartet now turn their focus to the Knights Templar, the military order of the Catholic Church whose atrocities in The Crusades were brutally obscene.
There is no fanfare, no elongated introduction on this album with which to allow you opportunity to settle comfortably. The album explodes into life with opening track ‘Destruction of Shum’. An aural assault to delight the darkest of senses, this is a cacophony of black metal which roars like a tsunami, smashing all in its wake. The battery of blast beats and sheer intensity of the tremolo riffing is irresistible, the first breakdown into the band’s black n’ roll infectious. Below this maelstrom, we find Dean Lettice’s harrowingly raw vocals exploring the story of The Rhineland Massacres, a series of mass murders of Jewish people perpetrated by German Christians in 1096.
Exploring the album, each track provides new delights and more eruptive power. Each listen producing further twists and turns, subtle improvisations and dramatic bursts which appear as if by magick. ‘Befallen Order’ switches between the pummelling black metal and a driving heavy metal style, the waterfall of riffing compelling the listener to bang the head, Lettice releasing some unworldly screams in his delivery. It’s addictive, the sound all encompassing. ‘God Wills It’ takes a slower, riff heavy approach. ‘Field of the Burned’ explores the burning of 200 Perfecti after the Siege of Montségur in 1244. The shimmering riffing provides a sinister backdrop to the terrible story. Elsewhere, the title track’s opening riff is compelling and addictive, driving the song hard and fast, whilst the decision to close the album with two of their longer songs works impressively.
The rawness of these appalling atrocities is captured perfectly in the musical storm which The Infernal Sea create. The pacing is ferocious. The tempo rarely slows, but when it does, it simply provides opportunity to catch breath, digest the tumult that has occurred before diving headlong back into the raging storm. The combination of Jonathan Egmore’s thrilling guitar work and the lock tight bass and drumming of Jame Burke and Chris Revett provide the perfect platform for the harrowing screams and guttural delivery of Lettice. Slowing the speed simply increases the bone-chilling atmosphere that the band create.
It’s horrific subject matter, delivered in a devilishly disturbing manner. Few bands could tackle topics so intense and controversial. Compelled by listening to this release, I searched the internet for some of the frighteningly depressing events that the album explores. Echoes of current times are always found in the history books. Sinister echoes of society today loom large. Art is about making the viewer think. Ensure you dive deep into ‘Negotium Crucis’. A superficial approach just doesn’t work.
‘Negotium Crucis’ is released on 18th September by Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings.