Infanteria means “infantry” if translated from Spanish to English – though it remains unclear as to whether or not the band intended any links to the Spanish military. Regardless, their name seems apt enough considering the band’s lyrical content makes many inferences to war, struggles and mortality. In fact, one of the accomplishments of this album, in my view, is its story-telling ability and how it succeeds in drawing the listener into a world vividly painted in blood-spattered guitar riffs, munitionized drums, misty keyboard breaks and grit-stained vocals; rendering some kind of apocalyptic vision of a world which we as humanity couldn’t have been damned enough to save. Do these characteristics sound reminiscent of a thrash band? Well, apart from the keyboards, I’d say “Absolutely!”, and a great thrash band Infanteria doth make.
The albums namesake “Isolated Existence” begins with a delightful Iced Earth-esque intro which lasts a full ninety seconds, denying the song of any potential for mainstream radio-play before a vocal line is even uttered (which, needless to say, only kicks in another almost full minute later after some more power guitarage). This is good! It represents a clear indication of the bands disregard for commerce-before-art and wins them points in overall metalness. The remaining four minutes of the song ring true to some good, ol’ fashioned thrash sensibilities, but lends itself to a more contemporary edge with the inclusion of keyboard tones.
“Cataclysmic Oppression” follows and is deserving of its selection as the first single off the album. It is jam-packed with powerful riffs, harmonies, solos and a fantastic chorus which will have fans singing along, boldly, where no others have sung before. It’s a great showcase track which sums up pretty much most of what else can be expected throughout the album, although it’s not at all to say that the rest will be paled in comparison. In fact, the band shows off their hook-writing prowess in the very next track, entitled “Let Death Decide”, with an almost oriental sounding, but catchy-as-hell intro. A very powerful song at Infanteria‘s live shows!
The rest of the album is filled with all sorts of other treats, with much the same flavour as one would have encountered in the first few tracks to varying degrees; just more of the goodness, making the whole thing a great listen. Particularly remarkable is a daring vocal interlude in “Beyond All Strength” which I find myself sucked in again and again and again for repeat listens. This offers a very fresh sound from the typical sort metal sounds coming out of the South Africa as of late.
I’m pretty pleased with what has been produced here, no doubt with the aid of Burning Tone Records to whom the band is signed. Isolated Existence has been a work four years in the making, plagued by financial shortcomings while members were still in school or college, and a transitional chapter featuring a member change. For me, this debut has been worth the wait. If this is what Infanteria have churned out for a first album, then I expect nothing shy of a masterpiece before the turn of the decade. It’ll clearly take a little more time to iron out a few minor shortcomings and perfect their art entirely; but as a recording band, the boys are off to a fierce start!
Isolated Existence is out on the 2nd of February 2013.
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