Album Review – Inkvisitor / Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (2018)

After suffering major lineup changes, this underground Finnish thrashing machine is back with a concept album following a neo-noir murder mystery story laced with black magic and necromancy elements.

After going through major lineup changes in the past couple of years, Jyväskylä-based Thrash Metal squad Inkvisitor is finally back with their second full-length installment, titled Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals, following up their fun and frantic full-length debut album Doctrine of Damnation, released in 2015. Part new Inkvisitor, part swansong of the old Inkvisitor, the album introduces the band’s new lead singer Markus Martinmäki and new drummer Tino Jäntti, while at the same time it also farewells their second guitarist Lauri Huttunen (not to mention their old friend and bassist Pekka Hölönen played bass on the album as a session musician).

Featuring an old school cover art by Petteri Ylitalo (Dear Death Designs), Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals is a concept album following a neo-noir murder mystery story laced with black magic and necromancy elements, with a single storyline progressing through the songs, and that’s one of the most remarkable changes from the band’s previous album, where lyrics revolved around the usual topics most Thrash Metal bands sing about such as nuclear warfare and beer. Another major change are the vocals by Markus, sounding a lot raspier than the Joey Belladonna-inspired style from their previous vocalist, adding an extra touch of aggressiveness to the entire album. In the end, although Inkvisitor are playing a different type of Thrash Metal in the new album, as aforementioned their core essence remains intact, resulting in a more-than-healthy and fun clash between their past and present musicality.

Starting in an Anthrax-like way, with both guitars exhaling metallic sounds while Tino pounds his drums mercilessly, the title-track Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals feels a lot more hardcore and pugnacious than their previous album (mainly thanks to the visceral screams by Markus, as already mentioned), and their hostile Thrash Metal extravaganza goes on in another circle pit-catalyst named Second Sacrament, with both guitarists Mikko Saviranta and Jesse Kämäräinen (as well as the departing Lauri) sounding infernal with their riffs, not to mention how bestial Tino is once again behind his drums. More modern and heavier than its predecessors and featuring the only  guest  musicians of the album  on  lead  guitars  (Sebastian Frigren and Kasper Koutonen, of  Nuclear  Omnicide  and  Devenial  Verdict), A Shadow Suspended by Dust brings massive, rumbling bass sounds which set the perfect stage for Markus and his demented growls, inspiring us to crack our necks in half headbanging.

Then speeding up their pace and mixing elements from traditional Hard Rock, Punk Rock and Rock N’  Roll with their frantic Thrash Metal, Inkvisitor deliver a full-bodied thrashing extravaganza named The Confession, with highlights to the incendiary performances by Markus and Tino. Moreover, it’s quite impossible to stand still to such high level of electricity and insanity, which can also be said about Mindslaver, another Anthrax-inspired tune with classic guitar riffs and headbanging beats, presenting lyrics about how our society has failed and how we need to start everything over (“Mankind has failed, brotherhood has been lost / The prison of the mind / And the cancer of your soul / Complete the ritual, sacrifice your family / Through death you ́ll be born again / Reclaim your throne”). In Necromancy Cascade, a slower but still very heavy and impactful composition, Markus delivers deeper, more introspective vocals while the energy in the music remains at a decent level (it never really takes off, though, falling flat after a while); whereas Paradigm Shift is a berserk, demented and totally awesome hymn by Inkvisitor showcasing all elements we love in old school Thrash Metal, with the demolishing drumming by Tino dictating the rhythm while the stringed trio Mikko, Jesse and Pekka sounds absolutely thunderous with their riffs, solos and punches.

Violence keeps flowing from all instruments in the belligerent War is Path to Victory, a song tailored for slamming into the pit with your friends while Markus screams its lyrics right in your face (“What do I think I know ́bout war? / Spare a life hand over your own / Violence consists of certainty / That war is a path to victory”), before the imposing and ruthless The Revenant (Redeemer) closes the regular version of the album, bringing to our avid ears menacing drums and bass lines, soulful riffs and solos, and the most demonic vocal lines of the entire album. And last but not least, as a bonus track for the ones who buy the album either in CD or digital (and you also get an instrumental version of the whole album and a 12-page booklet with liner notes) we have Quagmire Twilight (Deleted Scene), Inkvisitor’s darkest creation, a doom-ish tune with obscure vocal lines and piercing bass lines, with that dark and heavy aura going on until the song’s devilish ending.

As aforementioned, this new version of Inkvisitor is just as electrifying and heavy as their previous release, sounding more unfriendly (in a good way) due to their new vocal approach, and if you like what the band has to offer in this new phase you can purchase Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (available for a full listen on Spotify) from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Record Shop X, or from iTunes, and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on YouTube for more of their music, news, tour dates and all things Inkvisitor. Let’s hope that Inkvisitor’s days of major lineup changes are over and that they can now focus on touring and writing more Thrash Metal, because based on what they’re offering us all in Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals the band is on a beyond promising (and thrashing) path to success.

Best moments of the album: The Confession, Mindslaver and Paradigm Shift.

Worst moments of the album: Necromancy Cascade.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals 3:31
2. Second Sacrament 3:24
3. A Shadow Suspended by Dust 5:14
4. The Confession 3:39
5. Mindslaver 3:42
6. Necromancy Cascade 5:49
7. Paradigm Shift 4:38
8. War is Path to Victory 4:46
9. The Revenant (Redeemer) 5:45

Bonus track
10. Quagmire Twilight (Deleted Scene) 5:29

Band members
Markus Martinmäki – vocals
Mikko Saviranta – guitar
Jesse Kämäräinen – guitar
Sakari Soisalo – bass
Tino Jäntti – drums

Guest musicians
Lauri Huttunen – second rhythm guitar & lead guitar on “Second Sacrament”
Sebastian Frigren & Kappe Koutonen – lead guitars on “A Shadow Suspended by Dust”
Pekka Hölönen – bass (recording)
Kalle Raijonkari & Sampo Riikkilä – additional gang vocals

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Album Review – Inkvisitor / Doctrine of Damnation (2015)

If you want to be indoctrinated into frenzied and rousing heavy music, the brand new album by this talented platoon of thrash metallers is exactly what you need.

Rating4

coverStrongly inspired by the blazing musicality generated by the most prominent bands from the Bay Area Thrash movement, especially names such as Anthrax and Testament, Finnish thrash metallers Inkvisitor (the Swedish word for “inquisitor”) are set to release their debut full-length album Doctrine of Damnation, aiming at indoctrinating all of us into their high-quality frenetic music. And what they do in this album, joining the strength of American Thrash Metal with the Scandinavian proficiency in crafting harmonious and melodic music, will help them achieve their purpose without a shadow of a doubt.

Formed in 2012, this Jyväskylä-based band has really improved as a whole if you listen to their previous release, their 2014 EP entitled Delirious Tales, in terms of cohesion and aggressiveness of their music and content of their lyrics. They’re still a Thrash Metal band who loves to have fun with their music above all, of course, but now with a stronger focus on all aspects of the album production, such as the amazing old school artwork by Mad Matt Design and the deluxe sound quality, the final result is a lot more robust and pleasant to listen to.

Can you guess what comes after the intro MMXV A.D.? If your answer is “pure old school Thrash Metal” you’re absolutely right, as the epic and devastating Damnation already pumps the listener up with its strong Anthrax-inspired vibe, especially the deranged vocals by Aapo Vuori and the sick riffs by Lauri Huttunen and Jesse Kämäräinen. And why slow down if you can accelerate the savagery like they do in nataS ageM (or “Mega Satan” if you read it backwards)? Its lyrics are an ode to old school Thrash Metal, in special its chorus (“The power of nature, pure anarchy / The regin of eternity and absolute / Lord of destruction, original chaos / He is the one true MEGA SATAN”), and I don’t know if you agree with me but I can easily visualize the iconic Joey Belladonna manically singing those words. I would even say that if the band was called “Pernarutto” instead that would make total sense (Google it and you will understand why).

promo1pFocusing on a heavier sonority, the band tells a fun and creepy story of abduction that seems to be part of a B-horror flick in Abduction at Night, where drummer Petteri Milan has a good time switching from his rhythmic drumming to brutal blast beats, while Three Phases of Disembodiment showcases another interesting (but this time gory) story told by Inkvisitor. Moreover, its guitar lines keep the energy level high, with Aapo screaming and yelling his vocal lines to provide even more adrenaline to the music. And J-Town Anthem, their tribute to their hometown Jyväskylä, works as an intro to Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit), a song with a similar musicality from “Abduction at Night” where Inkvisitor once again deliver solid riffs, wicked vocals and huge doses of electricity through their music.

Mixing the speed from Megadeth and Testament with the attitude from Anthrax, fans of old school metal music will love the organic shredding and solos offered by Inkvisitor in Nothing to Live For. However, it’s in Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge that they reach another level of destruction in a little more than two minutes of pure headbanging, mosh pits and screaming. Its lyrics pay an awesome tribute to one of the best horror movies of all time, the disturbing 1987 classic Hellraiser (“Woke up with this / Puzzle in my hand / A tune so pretty lured me to open it / Carnal knowledge from another dimension / What have I done / I’m torn to pieces”), and I don’t need to say that if they don’t play this song live, we riot. Lastly, closing the album in an exciting way, Inkvisitor sing about the power of the gods in Claim What is Yours, with highlights to its fuming guitars flawlessly supported by the solid bass lines by Pekka Hölönen and the precise beats by Petteri.

It doesn’t matter if you get in touch with Inkvisitor through their Facebook page, YouTube or SoundCloud, and if you buy their album at their BandCamp page  or at their official webstore, as long as you show your sincere support for these amazing newcomers of thrash I’m sure they will keep delivering awesome metal music to all of us. As previously mentioned, Inkvisitor are trying to indoctrinate us into their nonstop Thrash Metal music, summoning us all to go crazy into the pit, so why not give these guys a chance? They surely deserve it.

Best moments of the album: Damnation, nataS ageM and Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge.

Worst moments of the album: Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit).

Released in 2015 Haje Records

Track listing
1. MMXV A.D. 1:15
2. Damnation 3:43
3. nataS ageM 4:06
4. Abduction at Night 4:24
5. Three Phases of Disembodiment 4:06
6. J-Town Anthem 0:56
7. Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit) 4:47
8. Nothing to Live For 4:27
9. Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge 2:03
10. Claim What is Yours 5:24

Band members
Aapo Vuori – vocals
Lauri Huttunen – guitar
Jesse Kämäräinen – guitar
Petteri Milan – drums

Guest musicians
Pekka Hölönen – bass
Kalle Raijonkari – additional vocals
JC Halttunen – additional vocals