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INFERNAL MAJESTY - Unholier Than Thou (2017) LP+7"

INFERNAL MAJESTY - Unholier Than Thou (2017) LP+7"
Brand: High Roller
Product Code: LP+7"
Availability: In Stock
Price: 21€
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After Infernäl Mäjesty's legendary debut had come out in 1987, it took the Canadians more than a decade to complete their second album. Instead of releasing another full-length record right away, they first brought out a couple of demos (now re-issued by High Roller Records as the demo compilation “Nigrescent Years of Chaos”). Original vocalist Chris Bailey stated that “recording these demos was like trying to restart a dying engine over and over again.” What had happened then so that Infernäl Mäjesty were finally able to pull themselves together and write and record a new album? “It was our passion for this music. It's in our blood. We were like bats searching through the darkness to satisfy our hunger.” Reactions to the new album were a bit controversial, as Chris remembers: “The press reacted great but it was a split between those camps that think it's better than 'None Shall Defy' vs those who believe it's not. Then the discussion continues from there. I still get emails about it. Fans saying 'None Shall Defy' is shit compared to 'Unholier Than Thou'. It's like trying to judge artwork hanging on a wall. Who's right?” Well, that remains a decision everyone has to make for oneself…
In an old interview the band stated that “the new record entitled 'Unholier Than Thou' is really just a continuation of the 'None Shall Defy' album. The songs where written over five years ago (i.e. around 1992) which really makes them vintage Infernal Majesty. It's like when bands find old recordings that they thought they lost. It reflects how we were writing and feeling at the time.” How does Chris feel about this? “Again, people are going to have their own perspective on things that I can't explain but I personally would disagree with that. 'Unholier…' is a Death Metal album with a lite peppering of Thrash. That's why the drums were recorded by Scott Burns. I would agree that it reflects how we were feeling at the time. Which is pretty much how we feel now. Filled with rage!” he says laughing.
Of the album tracks, only “Where Is Your God?” had been released before. It first appeared on the 1997-split with Custom, while all other songs were brand new. Again it were Steve and Kenny who wrote most of the music: “Yes, and Steve wrote most of the lyrics except 'Death Roll', but everybody had something to contribute.”
German Rock Hard Magazine gave “Unholier Than Thou” an 8 out of 10 and described the record more or less like this: “Bailey, Hallman & Co. are not trying to be trendy, they have stayed true to their 80s roots and have enhanced their style with some traditional Death Metal elements; all in all the record seems a bit more organised and thought-through than the debut.” Chris: “I would agree with that. I think it's a natural progression for musicians as they mature and become more in tune with all the nuances that go with learning your craft. We are all maturing the older we get and that should be reflected in the structure of the songs.”
With Chay McMullen (bass) and Kevin Harris (drums), two new members had entered the ranks of Infernäl Mäjesty: “Well, I miss those bastards! I have no idea how we found them but it felt like they were always there. We have that same chemistry now with our newest members. I still talk to Chay now and then. We had a lot of good times together on the road and living in Toronto. Some epic stories and they'll always have a place in the history of Infernal Majesty. Like snow flakes no two minds are exactly alike so the chemistry was changed but the recipe was still good. Kevin was an exceptional drummer and Chay an outstanding bass player.”
“Unholier Than Thou” was produced with the help of Scott Burns (the producer of a number of genre-defining albums such as Death's “Human”, Massacre's “From Beyond”, Obituary's “Slowly We Rot”) and Rob Sanzo (owner and operator of Signal To Noise Studios). All in all, the recording process was a bit knotty, at least from Chris' perspective: “It's a little complicated but I didn't rejoin the band until shortly after the drums and rhythm guitar tracks had been laid down. How they found me is a whole other story. Unfortunately I wasn't there to meet Scott but I recorded the vocals in Toronto at Signal To Noise Studios with Rob Sanzo and that was a real delight. Perfect atmosphere and a great experience. Everything started great. The drum and guitar tracks were recorded with Scott Burns at Reaction Studios in Toronto. I go into more detail in the book I am writing, but basically from this point things weren't working out with Vince when it came time to lay down the vocals, so the recording stopped. Scott recommended finding me, and a long story short, a few months later I was recording my vocals at Signal To Noise Studios in Toronto and Chay was laying down his bass tracks. We did some additional recording with Jon Drew and Pierre Remillard who also did the mixing at Studio Vector in Montreal. We had a blast when we went to Montreal. The label owner Tom Treumuth was there the whole time working with us. It was great to see him actually engaging with the band in the trenches.”
The first album “None Shall Defy” had come out on Road Runner Records; a European tour together with Malevolent Creation, Vader and Vital Remains later landed the band a deal with Hypnotic Records, so Infernäl Mäjesty shared one roster with Annihilator, Razor, Anvil, Obliveon, Voivod and a couple of other prominent names. But being on Hypnotic Records did not turn out to be a real improvement, right? Chris on that: “Looking back I thought it was a bit of a gamble, but so many things about it made sense for us at the time. Like you mentioned sharing the roster with such great Canadian Metal bands had the potential to work out well for all of us, but without a crystal ball you have to go with the hand your dealt. We identified the weak points that kept holding us back. We are laser focused now.”
Somewhere around the year 1998 rumour had it that a tribute album of Infernäl Mäjesty songs was about to be released. What has become of that? “Hey, you're right. I remember hearing about that. I totally would have forgotten that it was out there for a while. It didn't come from the Infernäl camp, but it has been humbling and an honour to hear all the great covers over the years from our brothers in Metal.”
The artwork used for “Unholier Than Thou” is a 15th-century painting of hell by the Flemish artist Pol de Limbourg, taken from the famous book of hours named “Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry”. Chris explains why this ages-old image was a perfect pick: “The barbaric surreal beauty of hell's grim tyrant portrayed in the painting was perfect to reflect the hypocrisies of the pious and that feeling of satisfaction when justice is served.” Infernäl Mäjesty actually have a taste for all kinds of historical stuff. Their lyrics, too, often deal with real events from the past. While “Overlord” from “None Shall Defy” is about the invasion of Normandy, “Roman Song” dives into the history of Roman gladiator fights – so history in general must be a favourite topic for Infernäl Mäjesty? “It really is. We love history as much as we love the horrors of the human condition. We also delve into far out fantasy that comes from within. I think it's important not to misinterpret the point of view or the author's perspective. Also I would add that there is an underlying thread that runs through most of the songs and connects them. We are defenders of truth and expose hypocrisy.” So, what to do if you want to support Infernäl Mäjesty in their crusade? Get this record, and: “Listen to it loud... seriously!”

Ulrike Schmitz

LP:
1. Unholier Than Thou
2. The Hunted
3. Gone The Way Of All Flesh
4. Black Infernal World
5. Roman Song
6. Where Is Your God
7. Death Roll
8. Art Of War

7":
1. Where Is Your God
2. Gone The Way Of All Flesh

Listen!

Publisher Info
Format 12" Vinyl LP (Black) + 7"
Label High Roller
Released 2017/1998
MPN HRR529
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