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The first 45 seconds of Infestus’ new album, The Reflecting Void, reflects not a void but the grand diversity of sound brought together on this album. That track, “A Dying Dream,” opens with an anguished war cry and grunt, followed by an onslaught of tremulous guitar and a wall of drums, and then segues into an acoustic passage with softly spoken vocals. Just as quickly, the song returns to the sonic assailment and the whispers are transformed into a whirlwind of guitar noise. Despite how it might read, “A Dying Dream” doesn’t sound incongruous at all; in fact, it sets up a sense of taut anticipation, causing one to wonder what will come next.

What makes this more remarkable is that it’s the work of one person. The solo black metal assault is hardly novel at this point, but Germany’s Infestus are different in that they made the transition to a single creator slowly over time. The band has been shaved down from a trio (Worshiping Times of Old) to just one man named Andras. He has an excellent command of his instruments and the many moods possible within atmospheric black metal, whether he’s speaking of “the current in which I drift, day in day out” on “Constant Soul Corrosion” or screaming “save me” before the jaws of “Cortical Spreading Darkness” snap shut.

After his two compatriots left Infestus, Andras took over all instrumentation and created 2011’s E x | I s t. He now returns three years later with The Reflecting Void. Infestus makes the kind of music that can’t easily be digested in bits. It’s best to play the entire album and submit to the journey; in this case, a 54 minute journey traveling eight tracks that swell in length and then recede as the album comes to a close. To that end, the record is very much an inner odyssey. The eye opens: it sees suffering, illusion. The eye shuts: the mind reacts, comprehends, purges. The snippets of lyrics that can be made out, as well as the beautiful cover artwork, reveal an understanding that the world in which we live, and our place in it, is an illusion created by our own minds. It’s a bleak outlook, but then again, knowing this is freedom.

The Reflecting Void is a sophisticated album with a pace that slithers from tranquil to tumultuous over each track. The second song, “Spiegel der Steele,” picks up the aforementioned storm of dying dreams and explodes into “Constant Soul Corrosion,” another song beginning with whispers and a dreamy intro that soon becomes a savage landscape. By the time closer “Origin” starts, the shifts have explored darkness and light so thoroughly that the abrupt ending is like being projected into nothingness. Or, perhaps, into another realm where the eye of the void once again sees itself.

The Reflecting Void was released April 25 by Debemur Morti and is available in a gatefold vinyl 12-inch LP and a CD digipack.

— Vanessa Salvia

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