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"The Devil is in the Details" someone once wrote. The origin of this expression is highly disputed, but we can be perfectly sure its originator did not have American/Colombian black metal duo Inquisition in mind. Yet that expression more than anything captures the essence of Inquisition's brilliance. On the surface the riff-driven, stripped-down, repetitive black metal the band has stuck to since their debut full-length is accessible, but its ability to last, grow and actually benefit from repeated listens tells us there is something more to it.
For the uninitiated, Inquisition's music is somewhat tricky to describe surely being one of a kind. How Dagon's guitar work and Incubus' drumming acts as an entity, rather than in a classic rhythm section/lead guitar fashion, to conjure ritualistic sonic attacks of a highly addictive kind is something everyone eventually have to face on their own, challenging their own mind in their own time. Dagon's throat-singing-toad-with-goitre-vocals sure has its threshold to pass before it becomes such an integral part of the experience any other vocal expression as tool for enhancing Inquisition's music becomes unthinkable. The closest relative I have come upon is 'Battles in the North'-era Immortal capturing some of the dark yet catchy guitar and vocal work characterizing Inquisition, but it only really tells half the story.
Those who already have made the acquaintance will know exactly what to expect. Almost everything is in the bands well-fashioned order. A bass guitar is still nowhere in sight. The songs are still built on a blastbeat tempo/doom tempo shift or a consistent atmospheric mid-tempo structure. The subtle melodies serving as atmosphere catalyst is ever-present on the primitive repetitive auditory collaboration between the guitars and drums. Once again they work as an entity making the most of astonishingly small means.
Anyone who has ever heard the band in the past will recognize every single riff, guitar line and drum stroke. Almost nothing new has been brought to the table, yet everything feels fresh, inspiring and that exciting feeling of discovering something entirely new fills your mind despite having heard every single record put out from the duo in the past. Only the Southern Lord knows what devilry has been put in the details of Inquisition's music to conjure such an amazing experience, but neither he nor the duo embodying it are likely to tell us. They probably even couldn't if they wanted to, factors like these can seldom be put in rationale writing.
Some details differ on 'Obscure Verses for the Multiverse' though compared to previous efforts. The cosmic lyrical focus from predecessor 'Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm' continues, passing the all-out satanic preaching of old to the history books (I still believe the opening quote to be valid though). Dagon experiments with some guttural croaks in 'Darkness Flows towards Unseen Horizons' and demonical spoken words in the title track.
There really are no immediate "hits" like 'Strike of the Morning Star' on 'Obscure Verses for the Multiverse' and this album sees the band more than ever emphasize their atmospheric mid-tempo region effectively conjuring a groove-laden hypnotical audio landscape pulling the listener to the very center of the sonic ritual. Again, nothing major revolutionary but still a subtle change compared to the past. It seems however that this slight shift in focus have contributed to making 'Obscure Verses for the Multiverse' the bands least accessible album to date only revealing its dark tempting secrets after a good few spins.
To the most loyal fans of old the production might come as the biggest change and on my part, the only aspect I am not satisfied with. The bands organic production of the past has been replaced by a digital ditto trying to sound organic. A fatal error for many young revivalist bands it does not fatally wound 'Obscure Verses for the Multiverse', but rather constitutes another shell to crack before the album can fully settle.
Only the Devil, or possibly the collective analytical mind of the NSA, could ever reveal the full details on how Inquisition can produce the same album over and over and sound nothing but fresh and inspired. 'Obscure Verses for the Multiverse' is their least accessible output to date but the reward for hanging in there is all the more rewarding. Inquisition probably has the most solid discography in the genre and their latest output makes for no exception. It keeps strengthen its position with each listen and what heights it could potentially reach only time, cosmos and the Devil's details can tell.