Infamous is a black metal band from Sardinia, an island in Italy that speaks a variation of Latin and which has its own particular history stretching back to the Nuragic civilization and into the distant past beyond the time of the dolmens. Its rich land speaks through the traces of human culture that lived in symbiosis with the land and the forest around it. To be more precise, the peoples that developed were affected directly by the magic of the environment while leaving their own stamp on it as a native blood that gives back to its soil and nurtures it. This is also what we hear in so raw a fashion being translated from the land, air and water of Sardinia into black metal for us by S.A., the man behind Infamous.
What we hear in the music of Infamous is a sad longing for the remnants of the Golden Age, and a virulent rejection of the dejection of modernity. These reflect the general posture of someone who knows there is something wrong with our times but still has to live in them, and is thus resolved to triumph in spite of it but promoting higher, and therefore more real, ideals. Comprehending such a point of view is not easy, for it is so very far removed from what the modern human being is used to perceiving. Only a de-programming and a return to a purity of vision that allows for reconstruction may open doors shut by neglect and hubris.
The black metal template adhered to by S.A., the mind behind Infamous, is close to a rock music simplicity, mainly using the guitars for cyclic, simple, consonant melodies. The nature of it all remains, however, on the metal camp, as these melodies are thickly enunciated phrase-themes at the very center of the arrangements. The drums themselves are a sometimes punkish, sometimes heavy metal affair that support the guitars as needed. A howling and screaming glaces the foggy storm of the instruments that brings ice and water crashing against stone, a nimble ghost haunting the grounds where streams of living power continually re-create.
II. A Poetry of Shadows
The music of Infamous, as well as the titles which describe them, bespeak a deep sorrow that is nonetheless profoundly joyful as the grief of a healthy soul that turns into an almost infinite hope for what is to come. It is an inner light shining on and through the surrounding darkness of a putrid age. However paradoxical as it might seem to the reader, this movement upwards is generated by a black vortex of negative energy. Consumption, misery and hunger come together to awaken something in the superior individual. As this drives deeper into him who has this seed, the further toward the stars and beyond them he reaches as far as his arm will allow him.
The lower man escapes any glimpses he might catch of a consuming darkness by running back to the crowd, getting lost in its delusions that attempt to change reality with vain arguments, and in the inebriating vices which appear to come closer than ever to a Huxlean soma. The confrontation with the Shadow never occurs for most even at the most basic of levels, leaving them prey and slave to lower forces while remaining utterly bereft of a contact with the higher. All this in spite of the Aphrodistic delusions of the horrible era which promise illumination and liberation by proxy, an impossibility given that such gifts can only be attained through wilfull and sustained transmutation.
Perhaps it is in conveying these concepts that Infamous chooses its colors, its images and words, though we cannot venture to claim to know the mind of S.A. with unshakable certainty. The music also suggests this is the music of someone who through isolation seeks something larger than himself. Here, solitude is the result of the purposeful retirement of the hermit into a space where he may both search and create. It is the antidote to the benumbing social blanket that seeks to normalize and sacrifice quality for the sake of the illusion of safety. Thus, the hermit as an ascetic embraces life and nature as it is, lunging into darkness, beyond despair and fear.
III. Dark Heroism
As a consequence of the realization of the present state of affairs, the man with a seed of the heroic in himself must decide whether to confront the world and carve out his own wyrd1. In confronting a decadent world, the inner must also be brought into alignment. Perhaps it could be said that it is of the utmost importance that in order to fully come to terms with the inner, the outer must be exposed as well, not only thought and meditation, but through effective and purposeful action. It is action and danger which permeate black metal as a whole, and which Infamous congeals to concrete auras and feelings under precise and descriptive titles. This dark heroism implies deeds outside the limits of society, self-knowledge beyond good and evil, and a willingness to reach one’s own limits in mind, soul and body.
To these ears, the collection of demos presented in Shadows from the Past is one of the strongest reflections of the murky and elusive ideals that dimly shine through the emotional music of Infamous. In saying this there is no intention of expressing an absolute preference or favoritism of the superficial sort. It is very usual that a band’s most transparent expression can be found in their rehearsals and demos, because they were not originally meant for anyone to hear; thus, there is an undilluted and honest simplicity and even straightforwardness with an open heart that is not usually replicated again when recording official studio releases. That said, one of the things that makes a project like Infamous stand out, for those intent on basking on black metal of an authentic kind, is that S.A. has developed a style and sound of his own which always sounds fresh and presents a different facet in what seems like an evolving yet consistent musical personality with a mature and well-defined core.
“…esalava forse l’oscura aspirazione a trascendere l’angustia della vita volgare e a raccogliere i doni dall’eterna Poesia sparsi su le pietre e su le acque.”
—Gabriele D’annunzio, Il Fuoco
1 Wyrd is Fate or Destiny, but not the “inexorable fate” of the ancient Greeks. “A happening, event, or occurrence”, found deeper in the Oxford English Dictionary listing is closer to the way our Anglo-Saxon and Norse forbears considered this term. In other words, Wyrd is not an end-point, but something continually happening around us at all times. One of the phrases used to describe this difficult term is “that which happens”., Wyrd: The Role of Fate on Octavia Randolph.
|Side A – Torrid|
|1. Shadow I||06:55|
|2. Shadow II||06:03|
|4. In Our Blood (Rehearsal 2007)||03:10|
|5. Intolerance (Rehearsal 2007)||01:55|
|Side B – Misanthropy|
|6. Misery, Hunger and Chains||07:25|
|7. Black Vortex||04:10|
|8. Torrid Summer Misanthropy||05:34|