On their ninth album, Inquisition paints a microcosm of the dark middle-ages, an era where heroism and evil were not mere aesthetics but reality.
Album: Veneration of Medieval Mysticism and Cosmological Violence
Country: Colombia (later USA)
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Agonia Records
Album released on: 26th of January
Seattle’s Inquisition needs no introduction at this point. Formed by Dagon in 1988 in Colombia, the band has remained one of the most essential and consistent American black metal bands. On their newest effort, Veneration of Medieval Mysticism and Cosmological Violence (truly an Inquisition album title if I ever saw one) the two-man band doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor do they need to. The album, released by Agonia Records on the 26th of January, is full of raw, melodic guitar work, blast beats, and guttural singing, with the occasional atmospheric interludes and more dissonant riffs thrown into the mix.
Inquisition, to me, stands out best with their ability to take very consonant, you could even say happy melodies, and turn them into authentic black metal madness, like a triumphant celebration of evil. They achieved this best on their two albums at the beginning of 2010s (I’m not spelling out those titles to save ink).
One this newest album, Inquisition sounds a bit more ethereal, utilizing reverb heavy leads that sound almost shoegazy. It’s certainly not Deafheaven though, so don’t worry. In fact, I think Inquisition can condense the music to the purest elements of black metal with nothing extra, while still sounding like themselves. These reverby leads are best utilized on songs like Memories Within and Empty Castle in Ruins or the opening Witchcraft Within a Gothic Tomb. There are other interesting production decisions, such as the weird humming sound the guitars make on Sorcery Through Crystal Eyes in Search of the Devil or the clean singing and melody-laden guitars on the outro to the title track. These moments nicely break the monotony that many black metal albums are prone to.
The most fascinating track here is Light of My Dark Essence, which is characterized by a polka beat that makes it stand out from the normal blast beats that most songs have. I’ve always liked polka beats in black metal because of the weird contrast they create (polka is usually upbeat and happy, while black metal… isn’t). The song also alternates between a 3/4 and 4/4 beat, which is needlessly jarring and doesn’t really add to the composition, but again, it stands out. The band lays beautiful clean background vocals on top of the somber guitar melodies, and the middle-section of the song uses some delicious dominant seventh chords, which you don’t hear too often in metal.
Lyrically, you have your standard satanism here, but with the twist of added medieval fantasy, as the titles may have spoiled. There’s dark magic, gothic castles and prayers to Lucifer woven into these songs. It all together paints a microcosm of dark middle-ages, an era where heroism and evil were not mere aesthetics but reality. Thus, philosophically, the album fits interestingly in the family of Enslaved or Summoning, unlike the more cosmic black metal of their previous albums.
Overall, this is a decent album in a genre saturated with the average. It doesn’t reach the epic heights of their early 2010s albums in my opinion, or the bestial rawness of their early stuff, but it’s a worthy addition to their strong discography.
BMZ Rating: 7 / 10
What are your thoughts on the album? Please let us know on our social media channels, or join us on discord, where we discuss all things black metal! Make sure to follow our Facebook page, Black Metal Zine, to receive notifications when we publish articles. Moreover, take a look at our Instagram at @blackmetal.zine for concert pictures and more!