I must say I was extremely surprised to see this album released. After all the bad business that main songwriter Dagon was involved in, I thought no real record company would touch INQUISITION. Well, here comes Black Mass For A Mass Grave on no less than long-running Agonia Records and with this mystical project sounding bigger and more cosmic than ever. This is almost a double album in length (the vinyl actually is a double LP) and sees the duo executing their most ambitious sounds yet. If you can put the accusations of sexual perversion and outright fascism to one side (admittedly very difficult to do), you’ll find a lot of depths to explore here.
This is not quite the INQUISITION we remember…and yet it is. The bones and tendons are the framework we know, but on top of that is the meat and muscle of something more melodic, mid-paced and psychedelic. INQUISITION is not as “trollish” and gnarled, and is now more willing to add eerie, otherworldly melody. Combined with its droning black metal undercarriage, the music is now more of a head trip. The lead guitar is now often clear single notes with plenty of reverb but no distortion. The riffing beneath these leads is still a fast, crunchy black metal attack. The opening cut ‘Spirit Of The Black Star’ is a good introduction to the new age INQUISITION, as it features a lot of aggressive, distorted riffing but also a good deal of this cleaner lead technique. From there, ‘Luciferian Rays’ is even more free-handed with melody…Dagon’s usual sub-Abbath croak is also not as warped and robotic as we expect, although that style still shows up here.
There’s also more emphasis on slower and mid-paced tempos, which gives things a more majestic feel. The band has been heading in this direction for a long time and now songs like ‘Necromancy Through A Buried Cosmos’ and ‘My Spirit Shall Join A Constellation Of Swords’ revel in the groovier feel. As you can see, one thing that hasn’t changed is the long-winded song titles and preoccupation with cosmic mysticism.
By the time the lengthy album concludes, the INQUISITION style has kind of reached its limit and same-iness has settled in. But this was also true of prior albums. There are odd guitar flourishes like the roaring chords at the end of ‘Triumphant Cosmic Death’ and the killer marching tempo at the conclusion of ‘Majesty Of The Expanding Tomb’ that are truly original and take you by surprise. They remind you just how daring INQUISITION can be.
Final analysis: the album is ponderous and its new emphasis on melody can be a momentary distraction for long time fans, but the album remains INQUISITION through and through. No matter what idiocy occupies them in their off time, the band is one of the most interesting in all of heavy metal.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality
Black Mass For A Mass Grave
5 / 6