Inferno the new album from Portuguese metallers Shadowsphere may not bring the most startling originality or groundbreaking ventures but it delivers some of the finest rampaging anger and intense sounds you could wish for. As aggressive and hungry as any primal explosion Shadowsphere eat up the senses with an unadulterated and consistent assault of impressively skilled unrelenting emotive melodic extreme metal. The sounds upon the album are a ravenous storm of riotous emotion and flesh withering venom brought lyrically and musically together for a full and deeply satisfying experience.
Released on their own label Sphere Music Media, Shadowsphere with Inferno are looking to finally explode from their homeland into a wider world of acclaim and recognition. There is no reason or obstacle in their way such the strength and impressive sound of the album but music has never been known to be fair as shown by the fact it has not happened before now for them and many other excellent Portuguese metal bands. Following up previous albums Death And Dreaming (2002) and Dark Lands (2004) plus the Hellbound Heart EP of 2006, Inferno sees the band arguably rediscovering or returning to their instinctive brutal edge and sound without losing the fine and thoughtful melodic craft they have nurtured and skilfully realised over the years. The release is easily the most aggressive the band has been but also the most melodically inspired and imaginative.
As soon as the opening title track, a brief intro of forceful warnings yet beckoning charm leads one straight into Within The Serpent’s Grasp the hairs on the back of the neck flare up. Riffs claw at the ear whilst a muted groove flicks its forked tongue with teasing intent persistently making one wait for the violating eruption of aggression. When it comes it is less forceful than imagined but as impactful as you could dream of with that groove expanding into a fully fledged taunt upon the senses and the riffs and rhythms in tandem pummelling every centimetre of the ear. The guitars of Luis Miguel Goulão and Ricardo Trincheiras rile up the heart with blistering insurgencies of acidic melodic fingerings and persistently draining energy whilst vocalist Paulo Gonçalves scowls and growls with every emotional and aggressive atom he can muster. It is a powerful and furious start which leaves one expecting something fulfilling ahead.
Shadowsphere do not disappoint as the likes of Sworn Enemy and Dead Behind My Eyes leave one drooling at their enterprise and sheer explosive might. The first is another rampant boiling surge of uncompromising energy the drums of Emídio Ramos openly destructive yet perfectly controlled whilst bassist João Sousa chews on the senses with predatory basslines matching any serial killer profile. For all the excellent craft and sounds it is the wonderful vocals of Patrícia Rodrigues (ThanatoSchizO) which truly ignites the song, her sirenesque voice making an irresistible light within the dark growls and overwhelming black energy. The second of the two is a bruising fury which draws one into a maelstrom of anthemic intent and incendiary attitude. Both songs leave one teetering on the edge of numbness without a safety net to rely upon.
Like a malicious hound the album gnaws on the senses through every second of its fierce existence the likes of the corruptive Bullet Train, the incendiary Firewalker, and the excellent Gehenna where the shadows of the band find a deeper core of death driven intensity to consume with, all ripping layers from senses, emotions, and synapses alike though the band does offer some respite with instrumental The Hurt Locker. The piece of music featuring keyboards from former member Davon Von Dave is a weave of beauty and enveloping atmospheres, an eye of the storm type calm within the heart of Inferno.
The album closes with the epic and raging assault of Alone At The End Of The World. The song is eight minutes of unpredictable malevolence and creative melodic variation. With both Rodrigues and Von Dave returning to bring a majesty and tenderness to temper the insatiable dark surface and compliment the fine absorbing guitar play, the song is a deeply pleasing blend of light and dark worlds.
Inferno is an excellent album which without driving into new pastures brings its existing graze into impressive previously undiscovered levels. If Shadowsphere are not an eagerly mentioned name in the words of metal fans after this there will be no justice.