Do you like spelunking? Fancy mystical landscapes gorging with ancient lore and accounts of witches? Then you need to visit Muotathal somewhere in nowhere-land in Switzerland. The region is home of the famous Hölloch, a world-renowned cave system of a couple of hundred klicks in length.
Sometimes the goofy Swiss really knock themselves out. Wikipedia indicates the cave to be 200.4 kilometers in length, which should elevate whoever wrote that sentence to dork nirvana on a world stage of wannabe dorks. So, don’t you ever misstate that (supposed) fact by even one millimeter or the ghost of the last witch – the Kastenvögtin – will surely beat you senseless.
So, why am I not surprised that this location bred Infinitas – a metal band, no less. Their newest pretty mystical piece of work Civitas Interitus sturdily tells a story of mythical nature. I already got a kick out of the dry humor the band displays on the download page. And I quote “…you will find everything to write a nasty review…”. Well, nasty reviews usually mean nasty content in the first place. But fear not, things don’t look that bad, so relax some, guys.
The band saw the light of day in 2009 already. They burned through a number of shows and staff changes until – finally – this Year of the Lord 2017 they ended up with Civitas Interitus. Yet it appears that more members faded away from the line-up after the record release. This saddles them today with three members only and a search for new partners in crime to fill the void.
Infinitas boast a refreshing style. Or should I say a non-style, because they mix so many of them into their tune. Their offering describes best as some bristly and coarse Folk Metal. Yet, they are very far away from the leafy tree huggers, whose indiscriminate use of hurdy-gurdy tends to wear you out after a while – and those are legion. Not that there are no good ones, just think about Huldre or – more out in the pagan field – Eluveitie.
Civitas Interitus has no space for such overly green shenanigans. The record resides in a world of Heavy and Thrash Metal with a full load of dreamy, folksy parts thrown in indiscriminately and for good measure. Infinitas‘ formula to combine harsh metal with dreamy folk reminds me a lot of the late Lör or – then again – Wilderun. This results in an often somewhat scraggly tune that is not always totally harmonious. But it is exactly this fact that is also its allure.
The theme world resides in a imaginary medieval setting, where demons and bad spirits reign. As always, the rule that a good theme breeds good metal really kicks in for this record too. And for once the intro – The Die is Cast – is interesting and fits the story. They kick off with a monologue in .. Swiss German – the local one, spoken in their lonely valley. This is a dialect only spoken by a few millions on a world-stage of billions. But the idea is not bad at all and nicely leads into the story.
And thank Loki, the album thrashily kicks off with Alastor and loudly claims its place in the metal multiverse with a somewhat subdued Heavy Metal scream. One slightly reminiscent of Ms Hayes, which made me fear that I will be up to some mad screeching that the latter’s outfit Unleash the Archers likes to display.
And indeed, Andrea Böll displays that energetic bobcat approach to vocals that metal bands crave if they want to get somewhere. Her style nevertheless blends in perfectly with the overall delivery of Infinitas, even if not all notes ring really true. But the vocals stay just at the right level between not loud enough and too decibel heavy. So, we get no mindless screaming around the stage, but a well adapted use of vocal energy for the sake of the album.
The real raw power of the band comes to light in Samael, their flagship track. Infinitas really roll up to full power on that one.
I really like the savvy use of the violin on this track – and throughout the record by the way. This is why I never quite understood that the band accepted a musician sporting an e-recorder as her main strength. Folk Metal bands often use flutes and pipes to great success. But clearly this does not fit with the way this specific band structures their tunes. So not quite surprisingly I learned that Laura Kalchofner left the band shortly after the album release.
Further down the track list it is – again – the consistent use of a storyline that saves Civitas Interitus from doom and destruction. And this shows in the presence of brilliant tracks right down to the end of this album. Like Skylla or Amon that really stand out from the crowd. And it is again this savvy mix of metal, strings, piano, monologues and other orchestral parts that takes the cake.
In conclusion, Civitas Interitus is full of musical moxie that pulls you along in more ways than one. It takes a lot of elements to bring a good story to life. But Infinitas brilliantly managed that feat with a crafty and pretty unique brand of hefty Folk Metal. A welcome change from the usual fare that bands in this genre like to throw at you. All of this makes you want to step into their world and explore this city called Lunacris. But then, perhaps not – looks like a dangerous place to roam about.
Record Rating: 8/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Site
Release date: 5 May 2017