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Inquisition – Obscure Verses for the Multiverse

When I was a very young child — before I had any interest in heavy metal or music in general, for that matter — I had a bad experience with peas. Didn’t like ’em. Spat ’em up. Refused to eat them again until much later in life. Of course I love them, now. This is not a unique story: our tastes change as we grow, mature, add new experiences to our lives, and expand our palates. That knowledge is so ubiquitous, actually, that people sometimes take it for granted.

Case in point: Inquisition. This Colombian black metal duo’s last album, Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm, garnered rave reviews from many sectors of the metal underground, though admittedly not here. Like Cosmo, I didn’t like it. Spat it out. Didn’t want to listen again, until I remembered those peas. I’m glad I did, because Inquisition’s new album, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse tastes good.

There’s been enough verbiage crafted about this record’s good qualities in the weeks since its promotional copies dropped to make any more pontificating moot. Suffice it to say that Inquisition have managed to land in the precise middle ground between ’80s prog-thrash and modern black metal. Guitarist/vocalist Dagon invests all of his hooks in guitar riffs, and employs some tasteful natural and artificial harmonics—guitar techniques one doesn’t hear so often in black metal. The song structures launch forward, then lurch to a halt, and occasionally kick into high gear once again. In a genre that struggles with dynamic songwriting, Inquisition specializes in stitching moments into movements.

Inquisition lose fans at first listen for one reason: Dagon’s voice. Even for an extreme metal singer, his intonation is abrasive. He’s kept his vocal style on Obscure Verses, but added a little bit of emotion, and a few deeper death growls. The remaining croaking blends in better with the mix, as opposed to bobbing on top of it. Those slight changes make the whole sound go down much smoother — sometimes there’s only a hair’s breadth between ‘aggravating’ and ‘tolerable.’

Dagon’s detractors often describe his voice as frog-like, but a more accurate description might be Abbath’s Cylon duplicate. In fairness, that’s a perfect fit for the subject matter. Dagon’s lyrics straddle the line between Satan and Carl Sagan. Inquisition’s blend of occult and science fiction elements, as well as focus on memorable guitar work, call me back to the first few times I spun Watain’s Sworn to the Dark.

Obscure Verses for the Multiverse prompted me to give Inquisition’s back catalog another shot. On return listens, I like what I hear, even if their newest entry is the best of the bunch. This band has acquired a loyal (and growing) fan base based on merit. I’m sure many of those fans were turned off at first glance, as I was.

Listen to Obscure Verses for the Multiverse. Then, listen to something else by an artist you disliked before. Second chances come with rewards.

— Joseph Schafer

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