Infesting Swarm- Desolation Road

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, May 31, 2015

Germany’s Infesting Swarm may have only released their debut full length Desolation Road earlier in the year, but they’ve been around for quite a few years now. After forming in 2007, the band released a demo in 2011 that had a blackened death metal sound and was self-recorded by guitarist Tobias. In the years that followed Infesting Swarm recruited a new vocalist and changed their sound quite a bit, moving from blackened death metal to a mix of melancholic death/doom and black metal on their debut. It’s a natural progression outwards from where they started, and the band’s ability to move from harsher waves of black metal to absolutely stunning melodies make this album one you’ll want to pay attention to.

Quite a few of the songs on Desolation Road follow a similar pattern of alternating between slower riffs that build up layers of somber melodies and blasts of faster black metal distortion, but there are plenty of nuances between each one that makes it feel like Infesting Swarm is never simply repeating the same ideas. As I made my way through, the overall sound reminded me of melodic death/doom mixed with some of the dreariness of depressive black metal and some occasional sections that were closer to traditional black metal. It’s a combination that was instantly appealing, as the instrumentalists are able to strike that perfect balance between rawer intensity and melancholy that completely washes over you. Songs like “Year Of No Light” are great examples of Infesting Swarm at their best, as the instrumentation has a sense of beauty and serenity mixed with bursts of anger and rage that layer together to create breathtaking arrangements. Even with some of the similarities between the guitar leads and overall structures of these songs, I never found myself tiring of any of the material on Desolation Road over its almost hour length, as there was always some element that remained captivating and compelled me to come back and listen all over again.

The instrumentals may transition from harsh distortion to much cleaner melodies, but the vocals stick with the harsher end of the spectrum. Lead singer Tim does switch things up a bit though, as he is able to provide both raspier screams and lower growls that reverberate over the layers of sound. It’s another element of Infecting Swarm’s music that straddles the line between black metal and death/doom, and it seems very likely that Desolation Road should be able to appeal to fans of both genres. The transition from the high to low pitches is seamless and the vocals are able to maintain a considerable amount of intensity throughout which helps the peaks in each song to have even more impact. Considering that both of these genres are ones where vocalists have a tendency to stick with the same pitch the entire time and become repetitive by the end, the variation provided here makes a big difference.

It’s clear that the lengthier periods of time that this group has spent between releases paid off in a big way, as Desolation Road is an album that will stick with listeners for some time. By seamlessly merging melodic death/doom with black metal Infesting Swarm has created material that’s able to provide somber tranquility and introspective melodies with blasts of aggression and razor sharp edges. There does seem to be a little bit of room for the songwriting to experiment further as there are some familiar patterns by the end, but I can’t complain too much when the melodies reach the heights that they do and prove to be just as breathtaking each time through.

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