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Album Review: INQUISITION Obscure Verses for the Multiverse

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I was hoping—really hoping—that the new Inquisition album would have an even longer title than the last one did. No such luck. Also I was hoping that Inqusition would produce not more of the same, but something greater than what’s come before, as they’ve consistently done. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m entirely enthralled with Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, because while the music isn’t bad and it’s all a black metal fanatic could hope for, in the end it’s more of the same.

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Although, truly, how much innovation is it fair to expect from a band like Inquisition? The two members, Dagon (guitar/vocals) and Incubus (drums), have persisted through six albums in fifteen years and made a name for themselves in the black metal scene, no easy feat for any band. They seemed to reach the peak of their craft with their fifth album, Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm (hereafter ODPMM), a crushing album whose songs you just don’t forget. Obscure Verses for the Multiverse lacks the catchiness of ODPMM, and even of Nefarious Dismal Orations. The energy, drive, and aggression are still present, but the music doesn’t quite reach the level of quality found in the band’s previous efforts.

So what is good about Obscure Verses for the Multiverse? One strength at work is the experience drawn from producing five previous albums. Inquisition write and execute black metal as good as any, and they do it well. As usual, they waste no time with intro fillers or other pointless noise, instead battering you immediately into submission under “Force of the Floating Tomb.” Every song on Obscure Verses for the Multiverse consistently batters and bludgeons the ears. Tracks such as “Master of the Cosmological Black Cauldron” and “Joined by Dark Matter Repelled by Dark Energy” are among Inquisition’s best work to date.

There are a couple things Inquisition did not change (and never should): Dagon’s unique demonic-toad-with-indigestion vocals being foremost. He does experiment with a few growled passages, such as in “Darkness Flows Toward Unseen Horizons,” but these are brief and don’t mark any major stylistic shift. The other thing Inquisition should never change about their music is the lack of bass guitar. Having no bass has worked for them from the beginning, and it works for them on Obscure Verses for the Multiverse. I don’t even think about it anymore, it’s just a natural aspect of their style.

What’s stayed the same? A lot of recycled riffs, or what sound like recycled riffs. I notice this on “Inversion of Ethereal White Stars.” Parts of the song remind me strongly of ODPMM’s “Desolate Funeral Chant.” I’ll admit that it’s difficult to maintain a high level of freshness and originality, particularly in comparison to ODPMM. Overall, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse reaches for the same heights, but falls a bit short. Production quality also seems a bit off, though it’s not a significant complaint of mine. Devoted Inquisition fans will find much worth liking here.

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Obscure Verses for the Multiverse will be available October 25 in Europe and October 29 in North America from Season of Mist.

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