Inerth Create a Genre-Melding Golem on First LP “Void” (Album Stream + Interview)
Madrid's Inerth have fashioned a death metal patchwork on their first LP, Void. The entire record is a sort of Chuck Close painting—from afar, it looks familiar, even timeless, but zoom in and you'll see colorful splashes drawn from post-metal, old-school death metal, even 70s alt-rock and early hardcore.
Inerth is a band of veterans—everyone save guitarist Victor is a former member of longtime Madrid deathgrind act Looking for an Answer. Much more visceral and direct, 2017's Dios Carne, the band toggled between weathered death metal and old-school grindcore. If the record lacked finesse, it was at least true to its source material.
Void has no such jarring transitions. While drawing on classic sounds, Inerth blends everything expertly, layering punk riffs alongside muscular sludge rhythms. If Looking for an Answer wore their roots on their sleeves, so do Inerth; the difference is Void presents the familiar in a more prismatic way, channeling numerous influences into a singular force. "Dismantle the Illusion" has clear roots in post-metal, yet Inerth marshalls black metal guitars alongside the paleolithic drums, refracting everything into a death metal laser weapon.
It's also clear from Void that the band haven't lost their animal-liberation grindcore conscience since forming Inerth. David Attenborough makes a surprising appearance on "Deadline to Mankind," driving home the tenuousness of humanity over death-doom chugs. This fierce anarchic spirit permeates the entirety of Void. Much as the music mixes genres, the lyrical content and philosophical underpinnings mix the cynicism of age with a punkish revolutionary optimism. Inerth doesn't give the impression of a band comfortable sitting still.
The band gives listeners no quarter, either. Whether marching across "Paranoiac Critical Solitude"'s nearly eight minutes or ripping through "Brave New Cold War"'s sub-three-minute disso-punk riffscape, form follows function. This variation in tempo, runtime, and general approach keeps the record surprising on first listen and rewarding on return. Details like the clean vocals at the end of "Reality Tunnels" also show the band's versatility.
There were glimpses of this on the band's 2019 self-titled EP. Branded as "industrial death doom," the EP showed a group capable of shapeshifting but cautious, perhaps, about how far to go in any direction. On Void, Inerth is clearly more comfortable selecting which medium to deploy at a given moment, be it doom, hardcore, or good old-fashioned death metal.
Void is a monster expertly stitched together from different parts. Stream the full album below, and read on for an interview with vocalist Santiago Paz about the album's creation, context, and influences.
The following interview has been edited for style and clarity.
This band rose from the ashes of Looking for an Answer—what happened to that band, and what was the origin of Inerth?
Since the release of Dios Carne, the last Looking For An Answer album, and doing some touring afterwards, we all somehow understood that the cycle was over after 20 years of the band's existence. It was time to close a chapter and start a new one. Inerth was born on the same day that Looking for an Answer died.
Void is described as having some sludgy and industrial textures, yet there's definitely still a bit of crust and grindcore in Inerth's sound. How would you describe this project overall? What influenced Void musically?
I think we followed a path taken by some of our favorite bands in the late '80s/early '90s, which was to evolve from a grind/death background into an iconoclastic industrial doom approach, yet without losing the extreme edge and the rooted ethics. Albums like [Godflesh's] Streetcleaner, [Cathedral's] Forest of Equilibrium and [Scorn's] Vae Solis can be taken as examples of this kind of evolution. On the other hand, we try to leave our own print in this path by not following any predefined style but unconsciously sublimat[ing] our influences in the music we do.
We are influenced by many different bands and styles, but to name a few: Killing Joke, Godflesh, Napalm Death, Ministry, Neurosis, Amebix, Celtic Frost, Nailbomb, Unsane, Eyehategod, Entombed, Winter, His Hero is Gone, Head of David, Swans, Ruido de Rabia... Lyrically we are also influenced by Throbbing Gristle, Fields of the Nephilim, Joy Division, Coil, David Bowie, Current 93, "The Idiot" by Iggy Pop and many others who don't play metal or hardcore but are essential to us for creating an atmosphere of spiritual opression or liberation. We also enjoy contemporary bands like Realize, Blood Incantation, Wrong, Black Magnet, Deafkids...
What was it like starting a band so soon before the pandemic, and how did that affect the writing and recording of this album?
Now, in hindsight, it certainly feels like bad timing, but even if we were singing about the collapse of civilizations for years, one never knows when it is finally going to happen! Anyway, we were just on the verge of emerging as a touring band, and were ready to play as much as we could while we were writing the album. All these plans were disrupted when COVID struck, so when it was possible to rehearse again and with no plans for live shows ahead at that moment, we decided to focus all our energies on writing, rehearsing, and recording the new album, which we did during the winter and spring of 2021.
The song titles here—"Paranoiac Critical Solitude," Reality Tunnels"— feel very psychological. What lyrical and musical subject matter do you deal with on "Void"?
We included a list of books in the album [that] includes authors like Joseph Campbell, Lewis Mumford, Desmond Morris, and C.G. Jung among others, and some little quotes of authors like William Blake, John Milton, Aleister Crowley, and the band Wings appear between the lyrics.
We deal with multiple subject matters in every song, all are linked in common themes: geopolitics, psychogeography, environmentalism, and spiritualism are some of them, but the main idea is to create images, symbols, and landscapes which spark the listener's own ideas and imagination.
"Paranoiac Critical Solitude" and "Reality Tunnels" are directly linked since the former describes the mood many people shared during the lockdown and the latter talks about an opioid pandemic that is not only a problem in the U.S. In the city where I live, [it] is clearly visible as narcotics were and are an outlet and an anesthetic for many people in despair.
Would you say the band members' grindcore and crust punk background has an influence on your approach to lyrics? Does this project have a political dimension?
Everything we do in our daily life has a political dimension in one way or another; what we eat, what we do for a living, how we treat or educate others, etc. So, of course this project, like many other forms of art, can be approached from a political angle which is not separated from the psychological or sociological ones at all. The message is one of holistic liberation of the self in order to improve our lives and societies with action.
Yes, I would say that our musical background has influenced us, as well as many different kinds of music, movies, books and especially the learning experiences we enjoy or endure in our daily lives.
What do you think is the most difficult part of making metal in 2022?
I think the problems metal may have are the same that societies in general are enduring, which in my opinion [is] oversaturation caused by an excessive immediacy, which has us all in a constant state of high cognitive fatigue.
More particular problems could be the lack of [economic] relief on a big scale, the culture of festivals over small shows, and touring and recessions. I think metal, in the same way [as] blues, jazz, rock or punk, will evolve and survive for the enthusiastic and passionate, even if it is in its own niche.
There's been a lot of really interesting metal out of Spain and Portugal recently. Do you feel connected to a particular scene over there? What are some other local favorites?
We feel connected to many friends in bands, labels and show organizers we have met over the past 20 plus years both in the Iberian peninsula and abroad. They are the main reason, as well as the music itself, to continue making music, which is a very important part of our lives where we are able to express ourselves with genuine passion and strength.
Some our local favorites are Avern, Traidor, Homeless Network, Altarage, Guzural, Premature Burial, Ruinas, Ovakner, Balmog, Amhra, Proscrito and Voul among others.
Your first attempt at a tour together fell victim to COVID restrictions. Do you have any plans to go on tour again soon? What else is next for Inerth?
Even if we are all dependent on what will happen with the pandemic, we already have some shows booked, starting just after the record release in March until the summer. We are really excited about playing live after two years, and we really hope we can play a tour abroad in Europe and the U.S. at least.
Lastly, you've all been in a number of metal projects like Mutilated Veterans and others. Are you still active in any of these other projects? If so, what are you all working on outside of Inerth?
Actually, the only project that is really active is Ocean Gates, a doom rock band with punk attitude and psychedelic heavy metal vibes where I play bass along with Moya on drums. Occasionally, I sing in the doom punk band Prosma. I know Mutilated Veterans where Ramón and Makoko used to play together with our old buddy Dopi (ex-Machetazo, Premature Burial, Leprophiliac, etc.) is not active at this moment, but who knows if they will restart it again at some point. For his part, Makoko is still trying to keep active his old death/grind band Hindrance, and Victor is a busy person who works as a sound technician for various bands and occasionally assists the Argentinian hardcore act BBKid on bass on their European tours.
Void releases this week via Abstract Emotions.