I’ve either never had or haven’t had in a while a close 5.5/6 which ended up a 5/6 in the end, subsequent revolutions to clarify the matter failing to deliver. The Croatian melodic death groove metallers Infernal Tenebra’s pre-pandemic predecessor As Nations Fall²⁰¹⁶ was an easy 5/6 but not as good to these ears as New Formed Revelations²⁰¹², an album I had once received directly from the band along with a T-shirt you can see me wearing on the staff picture profile page if you dig around ET a little. An apologetic melodic death metal construct owing much of its influence to Hypocrisy, Kataklysm and Dark Tranquillity, the band had already been engaging if a little vague on Beneath The Twilight²⁰⁰¹ but became very interesting on The Essence Of Chaos²⁰⁰⁷ with the arrival of Darko Etinger (2002-vocals, guitars, 2022-bass) who gave it a progressive freshness with increasing groove metal overtones fully realized on subsequent releases. The last year’s independently released Origins Of Hate adds a fair amount of metalcore flair a’la Killswitch Engage or Shadows Fall which makes for a more varied offering, given the fact that the 9 track nearly 43 minute affair can and does get pretty brutal and extreme in places, but the overarching idea seems to be more clarity and melody no small thanks to Jens Bergen’s and Etinger’s superb production.

I must say that my favorites tend to be the catchier and more melodic tracks, such as the back to back two track battery of “Death Driven” and “Aeons Of Despair” and the more metalcorish but still perfect “Ghosts Of The Past” and “One With The Evil”, that last one, I suspect, poised to become a live staple due to the infectious chorus. Specifically, “Death Driven” recalls Pissing Razors’ Cast Down The Plague as well as Sepultura’s Arise, a powerful and brutal mixture to be sure but one with so much melody it goes by fast and in perfect segue to the decidedly black metal “Aeons Of Despair” which takes a few pages from the late 90s Hypocrisy and Behemoth for both brutality and melody, so we’re talking top shelf, people. “Ghosts Of The Past”, one of the catchiest numbers, is incredibly layered, fiercely groovy Lamb Of God style while working both as a half-ballad and a melodic death metal piece in the vein of early Arch Enemy and, for all the above reasons, grows on you very fast. Any one of the four makes a great representation of the quality presented on Origins Of Hate and of the hard work Etinger, Ivo Petrović (2009-guitars) and Sebastian “Sebo” Stell (2013-drums) have put into its creation.

The second tier are the fantastic title track opener reminiscent of This Ending and All That Remains (the solo!) with an interesting twist of a slowdown in the second chorus, and the closer “Civilization Unrest” which naturally grows its legs out of the preceding “One With The Evil”, the two numbers neatly bookending the material, which leaves me with an explanation why the album is very short of a 5/5 (5.4) but ultimately doesn’t quite reach that high mark: three songs which could have been better and kind of pale in comparison with the best.

The best of the three is “Sadistic Paradise”, a smart, catchy and melodic cut howbeit so Hypocrisyic it actually gets a little too close for comfort to “Roswell 47” in both guitar and vocal melody which makes me give this fantastic track a mere 5/6 score. That leaves us with the brutal thrashy but Nileistic and Behemothian “Corporate Schism” with a rather relatively disappointing chorus and a little underwhelming “Human Intolerant”, part Living Sacrifice part Machine Head with light Human (!) Death guitar work, which could have used richer melody, both 4.5/6, both the two immediate causes for the overall score to remain at 5/6 despite so close a call.

Origins Of Hate does not disappoint because Infernal Tenebra hasn’t since The Essense Of Chaos, plus it is easily their most varied and most complete work to date even with plenty of fat we can trim off here and there, however, the similarity to Hypocrisy goes a bit too far, especially on “Sadistic Paradise”, intentionally or not. I believe in this band and, with few tweaks along my suggestions, I see no reason why we couldn’t get a 5.5 or even perfect material next time.

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