Both 2016 and 2017 bore witness to Infernal Coil’s black/death/grind madness with a duo of EPs, Burning Prayer of Infinite Hatred and Bodies Set in Ashen Death, respectively. A new year has enveloped us, and the prophecy thus tells that Infernal Coil will release another sonic bible. This time, our demented friends have brought us a 36-minute long LP titled Within a World Forgotten which brings themes of human introspection, the looming apocalypse, and the sense of peace prior to inevitable destruction.
When people think of background music, their inner record player skips over to classical sounds, lo-fi hip/hop beats, and crashing waves. All three share a link of universal peace and tranquility that inhabits us all, but perhaps needs to be coaxed outwards via such types of tunes. There is a point where music (a term loosely-defined) can veer, or downright make a U-turn, into the complete opposite direction. This alternate reality travels such a great distance away from where we started, that it actually loops back to its original position in terms of certain qualities.
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche described time as an endless cycle rather than an infinite lineage of components. Without going into too much detail, he hypothesized that world events ranging from obscurities such as peoples lives to grandiose occurrences such as plagues and floods would repeat in an infinite cycle as the path of time moves in a flat circle, always returning to its point of origin. If one were to adopt this abstract vision towards the world of choreographed sound, the dichotomy between relaxing tunes and Infernal Coil’s black/death/grind massacre would both represent opposite ends of the spectrum, as well as the equal location of origin. There is a point where an artist’s definition and subsequent output of music becomes so abstract and so terrifying that it cycles back to bring similar feelings to that on the “opposite” end of the spectrum.
Within a World Forgotten evokes feelings of tranquility, primal conscience, and introspective thought yet, from an objective standpoint, the artist’s product is distracting and utterly ill. What happens between this conscious critique and the unconscious yet attentive listen? Well, I believe that the brain-numbing percussion, saw-like guitars, and piercing feedback found along the album’s length travels through our pores and throughout our bodies, in similar fashion to a high-speed massage chair, or a masseuse’s pounding pair of hands going along your back. This isn’t music that hooks into your brain and finds you humming a tune the day after, this is a current occupation of the mind, one that latches on to you, but releases those involved from its grips, returning you to a conscious and happy life.
I found that upon listening to the release, I would experience similar effects to such described above. The songs don’t necessarily make you bob your head, and certainly don’t earworm their way into your brain, but you can’t help but feel a sense of relaxation upon listening to the entirety of Within a World Forgotten. Again, you’re not going to absorb this feeling from listening to a mere single, or a part of a song; one needs to consume the work in its entirety. I believe that the reasoning behind this feeling lies behind the primal yet rhythmic nature of the echoed vocals, the incessant percussive repetition, and the Yin and Yang of side A and side B’s abrasive lengths which are each followed by long soothing harmonies.
In similar fashion to the transcendental nature of the instrumentation, the album’s artwork and lyrical themes play a pivotal role in the listening experience, if one chooses to delve deeper into the release. Track titles like “Reflection of Waldeinsamkeit” (referring to the German merging of the words “forest” and “loneliness”) contribute to the comforting aura surrounding the effort. While no title track is present, this particular number would work as such, as it eloquently describes the album’s cover art. Perhaps an homage to Entombed’s classic debut Left Hand Path, the moonlit forest interior offers a fitting clash between a presumably-roaring flow of water set beside thousands of years of peaceful wild overgrowth. Such a juxtaposition returns to this common splitting of themes of the Yin and Yang, the convergence of the band’s brutal music which is followed with a minute-long soft melody on each side of the record, and the limbo-like scene created by massive contradictory lyrical themes such as our conscious contribution to the apocalypse and the calm before the storm.
Within a World Forgotten isn’t just your brutal slab of death metal, or your murder-inducing daily intake of grindcore. This is an album that straddles a fine line between melody and noise, creating an atmosphere unlike any other piece of music. From the concurrent juxtaposition of themes and sounds, to the pummelling yet relaxing nature of their music, Infernal Coil manages to lift one from their ties to the Earth, while informing them of humanity’s destructive nature without overstaying their welcome. The release is out on Profound Lore as of September 16th.