Ad Inferna – Opus 7: Elevation

Ad Inferna - Opus 7: Elevation

Ad Inferna is a french duet that used to play very strong symphonic black metal back in 2001 (‘L’Empire des Sens’ is recommended to anyone into Obtained Enslavement or Bal Sagoth). Followed a 8-year hiatus before vocalist V. V. Arkames and multi-instrumentalist VoA VoXyD reactivated the band, though in a radically different musical direction, still symphonic (this time through lush orchestrations and female operatic voices) yet more electro-darkwave oriented (including programmed beats, electro-industrial pulses, sad electronic landscapes, and agonizing whispered vocals). The only elements that link them to their debuts are the tortured voice of V. V. Arkames and the sinister guitars of VoA VoXyD.

On to ‘Opus 7: Elevation’, the band’s 7th album as its title suggests. This is an album with a strong work on voices. Male voices are most of the time halfway between spoken words and chant, in a whispered and agonizing pattern (akin to the voice of fellow countryman Iskandar Asnaoui of avant-garde symphonic dark band Elend), but can be more assured and optimistic like on tracks 2 and 14, or definitely more aggressive: repulsive as if coming from the main character of the movie The Exorcist (tracks 8, 11, 12 and 13), or high-pitched strident screams akin to black metal band Cradle of Filth (tracks 10, 12 and 13). Female voices are most of the time operatic (haunting essentially but also incantatory like on tracks 2, 5 & 11), but can be declamatory/imploring (tracks 1 and 11).

Ad Inferna

The music is essentially electronic, oscillating between long-developing pensive and impressionistic keyboard layers somewhere between Claude Debussy and Vangelis (the short interludes 3, 5, 7 and 8, but also interspersing longer tracks) and EBM programmed beats or electro-industrial beats (sometimes accompanied by sinister guitars, bringing to mind remixes of Samael or Fear Factory or Die Krupps’ tribute to Metallica). All Along the album, orchestrations provide a symphonic feel to the whole, and their dark solemnity (like on tracks 5, 11 and 13) could suit the soundtrack to a procession to Pandaemonium. They go contemporary in the closing section of track 12, where they bring strongly to mind Elend’s masterpiece ‘A world in their screams’. The crackling and resonating sound preceding the programmed beat in tracks 8 and 11 bring further nightmarish visions as they recall a theme heard in Dario Argento’s horror movie ‘Phenomena’. A band that comes to mind at the sound of the slowly-developing ambient layers, is Clan of Xymox (which ghost flies as well on the “bubbling” keyboards – think their song “A day” –  in tracks 4, 8, 10, 11 and 12). Guitar is not in a soloing perspective, it is scarce and there only to enhance the mood settled, it will be weeping or sinister depending on the songs.

Ad Inferna blend many various elements of electronic music / dark-electro (pensive, aerial or boiling keyboards, programmed and electroè-industrial beat) with elements of classic music (operatic voices, orchestrations), and metal (sinister guitars, tortured black-metal voice). The voices are performed in various shapes (whispered, agonizing, operatic, repulsive) and together with the musical mix above-mentioned help the music go through various moods and keep the listener interested. Besides, the contrast between the delicate impressionistic keyboard layers and the electro-industrial / guitar attacks, works fine. Open-minded listeners will appreciate this risky endeavour. And those who were stunned by the dark-ambient elements and the operatic voices, will rush on the project MY Eternel, founded by VoA VoXyD and one of the sopranos guesting on ‘Opus 7: Elevation’, Melissa Ferlaak.

Tracklist:

01 Dans la pénombre (2:45)
02 Soumission (4:19)
03 Sombres Rêveries (1:56)
04 Sans Elle (4:29)
05 Les cendres d’Eden (2:24)
06 Délivrance (1:53)
07 Le Silence des Ombres (1:01)
08 Non-Existence (4:15)
09 Renaissance (1:06)
10 Elle est Moi (3:23)
11 Sans retour (4:48)
12 Fin de l’Histoire (4:02)
13 Invisible (6:44)
14 Soumission RMX by Vasi Vallis (4:21)

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