Infirmum – Walls of Sorrow (Inverse Records)Thursday, 27th February 2020
A fertile breeding ground for doom/death, Finland probably has a high international impact thanks to the success of acts like Swallow the Sun and early Amorphis who cut their teeth on the style through The Karelian Isthmus debut album of 1992. The bleak winters, the darkness, the melancholy attitude all probably factor into the tradition of slower riffing, evil tones, and low growls – as we find another newcomer with Infirmum hoping to put their stamp on this death/doom style through their debut full-length Walls of Sorrow. Vocalist Timo Solonen started the act, finding session members to fill out the other positions with the results casting a solid understanding of both genres – gripping listeners through sturdy riffs, solid pacing, and addictive atmospheric tricks that intrigue and delight.
Where many Finnish bands draw from UK influences like early Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and Anathema, Timo seems to also appreciate a bit of traditional/epic flair as far as driving and cultural chord progressions and subtle tempo shifts that keep ears abuzz and brains afloat. Check out the stunning heavy to alluring harmony combinations for “Trust” and “Shadows of the Past” which showcase a love for Bathory and Crowbar as well, the layers of guitar activities building anticipation, tantalizing the next movement of crushing despair, trills that signal the next impending death toll. Circular rhythms hypnotize against sections of sluggish, resting heart rate tempos – almost approaching gothic uplift during “Wake Me” that can be a standout because of its simple yet addictive chorus. Keeping the songs all within that four to five and a half-minute range ensures ideas that convey focus without overstaying their welcome, a key to grasping the material in tight windows where often albums for this style can exceed an hour. The band logo and cover art may be the only confusing part of the presentation – as it’s something that one would expect more on a power metal effort, not necessarily bleak for the death/doom crowd. Even when they choose to amp up the tempo to thrash/death parameters for the concluding moments of “Autumn Breeze”, it’s done in reverence for the purpose of the song – the key to diversifying your songwriting, instead of throwing a curveball because you want to.
Ardent followers of Finnish metal will find Infirmum a welcome addition to the fold – and hopefully they’ll gain respect for delivering a potent debut album that has grace, heaviness, and thoughtful material that pushes the 90’s origins of the sub-genre into 2020 adequately.