One of the most interesting aspects of Inferno, the latest release from Cali metalcore luminaries Eighteen Visions, is the absolute dearth of information surrounding it.
Last month, a SoundCloud link to lead single and EP-opener “Sink” surfaced online. Along with the track, the band included a brief explanation of the release and detailed a concept based around Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy (1308–21):
“We wanted a concept that would artistically fit the vibe of the music we were writing. Dark, punishing, and hateful.” Essentially functioning as a studio passion project following the release of 2017’s well-received comeback album XVIII, it’s clear that Eighteen Visions are willing to disregard the puff-pieces that litter a standard PR cycle and let the music speak for itself.
It’s a commendable sentiment and one that “Sink” effectively channels from the outset, with frenetic blast-beats and pummeling, double kick from drummer Trevor Friedrich, vocalist James Hart’s larynx-shredding screams, and jackhammer riffage courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Keith Barney and guitarist Josh James (Stick To Your Guns, ex-Evergreen Terrace).
Running through six succinct tracks in a relentless 18 (get it?) minutes, Inferno packs a punch that will be immediately familiar to 18V fans. Quick-fire ragers like “The Void” and “The Wicked” get down and dirty at just over two minutes apiece, pairing serpentine riffs and dissonant panic chords with groove-laden chugs and skull-rattling pneumatic breakdowns.
When the band switches gears to more long-form cuts, things get interesting. “Thirty-One” is a sleazy tale of drug abuse and sexual misadventures, echoing the band’s hard-rock stylings of old, with catchy riff work from Barney and James. “Bleed The Sheep” finds 18V putting their spin on modern hardcore, with Hart’s iconic phrasing and cadence acting as the perfect accent to the band’s crushing sonics. Truthfully, when those staccato mosh moments hit, Inferno feels just like a time-capsule right back to the band’s mid-00s heyday.
Closer “The Perils of Sin,” however, takes a wildly different turn. The first half of the track allows choral chants and dark atmospherics to cultivate a sombre mood of reflection, as Hart’s cleans gliding over the occasional hung bass note. When the full band erupts into action on the track’s closing half, it becomes a moment of progressive, inescapable heaviness that feels all-too potent in 18v’s capable hands.
If Inferno is any measure of Eighteen Visions’ creative ambitions as they move into a new decade of operation, then they still know how to light the fire and make it burn.
Stream Inferno here.