Not so long ago I bumped into a map representing the number of metal bands in Europe per inhabitant (including inactive ones) on Facebook, realized on Jakub Marian's website, a page dedicated to language learning, science and arts, using Metal Archives as a source. The scenery is dominated by Scandinavia, with Finland with 630 bands per million inhabitants, Norway with 428 and Sweden with 299. Italy defends itself with 97, when Germany stands at 122, Great Bretain with 68 and Greece with 162; USA value is 72. I needed this preamble to make a well-assumed point: quantity doesn't mean quality of course, as well as underground is not always synonymous with interesting or worthy of being heard albums, it sometimes rhymes instead with improvisation and banality.
For your luck and mine I got my hands on the "Celebrating The Fall Of Humanity", yet another example of a work which comes from the deep but due to musical quality and a 360° accomplishment, has nothing to envy to the great names of the black metal sector. The two protagonists are the Italian formations Apathia and Infamous: I met the former at the times of the great "Through Depression And Ruins" demo, around 2009, at the dawn of our webzine, when Myspace was still a thing, and the latter are a permant and always appreciated presence around here. The first edition of this collaboration came out in tape format last fall through Magma Pure Underground, while this year Obscure Abhorrence Production has released the CD version, which is in my possession and kindly sent to me by the helpful S.A.
Apathia occupies the first three-fifths of the tracklist, I remembered them close to the suicidal-depressive subgenre from a musical stand point, however they keep the distance from this label, calling themselves "negative black metal" in the booklet, as well as the notes show. Their music draws doomsday scenarios in which hatred and contempt, generated in the faster segments — also because of N.'s piercing and visceral screams — result in the most solemn and tragic situations that reminds me for assonance at early Void Of Silence's ruinous atmospheres; certainly less oppressive because the obvious stylistic difference. The listener is engulfed by an unstoppable and powerful single stream, monolithic at first sight but that hides faceted details beneath the surface, like for example the melodies between a gothic Katatonia's "Brave Murder Day" and Nyktalgia featured on "Weltschmerz" or some vocal variations. The only problem to detect lies in the drum machine, that inevitably loses a few shots when the rhythm goes faster and generally doesn't offer a sound of enviable quality; but nothing too annoying.
Infamous and his deus ex machina S.A. — helped with the synths by Cold — give us two tracks, of which the first one is dated 2013. "Hidden In The Forest" is a very long composition that moves away from the dry and dense style, normally prerogative of the leader, in favor of more loose doomy rhythms, litanic choruses with clean vocals (alongside the classic effect-loaded scream) and a less rancorous riffing. The overall vibe goes well with the title: the entrance into the forest happens smoothly, thanks to an harpeggiated acoustic intro, afterwards the scenario becomes less clean, sometimes suffocating, sullen and sour, no more welcoming, while the ending is more in line with the solutions used in "Rovine E Disperazione", my memory recalls a track like Beatrik's "Buried Among Skeletal Woods". Instead, "Fading Away" is an acoustic song loaded with tedium, built on repeated arpeggios and melancholic keyboard notes, with the scream on the background. Beyond my preference of a release rather than the other, the Sardinian musician continues to amaze me, wielding the black metal stylistic features fluidly and always effective.
Besides having good music and more of a decent amount of time (over thirty minutes), this split is accompanied by the right cover with tragic tones, by the English romantic painter, printmaker and illustrator John Martin tilted "The Destruction Of Pompeii And Herculaneum". The scene represented is some kind of hell on earth, devoid of hope and where the cleansing fire has now epically submerged the entire humanity. Apathia's music seems to represent the views of those who enjoy the annihilation of the now by far corrupted lineage of Adam, while Infamous shows greater emotional involvement in the event and some reflection on themselves, in a suffered meditation.
The ability of both bands lies in knowing how to build articulated but never pretentious compositions, completely close to the dictates of black metal yet interesting and not trivial. The fire of passion and creative urgency really burn within Apathia and Infamous: "Celebrating The Fall Of Humanity" is a gem that deserves your attention.