Album Title: Walls Of Sorrow
Label: Inverse Records
Date of Release: 28 February 2020
Seeing as I’m on a roll, writing reviews left, right and centre and loving it, I thought I’d pen a few words about this record for your delectation. The name of the band is Infirmum but is better described as a one-man endeavour, as Infirmum is the creation of Finnish vocalist/guitarist Timo Solonen, with session musicians brought in to play the remaining instruments. His name may not be familiar with many of you – or I for that matter – but I have it on good authority that Solonen was active in the metal scene in the 1990s.
Knowing nothing about this release, I was drawn in by the fact that this debut album has found its way onto Inverse Records, who have released a few decent albums in the past. I was also drawn to the cover art and the fact that the music was described as death/doom metal. Seeing as I have finally discarded any false notion that I don’t like doom, I thought I’d give it a listen to see if ‘Walls Of Sorrow’ was any good.
The answer is that, all things considered, it isn’t bad at all. Is it a world-beater, an album that will find its way into my year-end top 10? Well, no. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t derive some pleasure out of listening to it. I certainly like it enough to review it, and it may be that this will scratch an even greater itch for some of you out there who are reading this.
Slow or mid-tempo material, with influences from many quarters including Boltthrower, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, is generally the name of the game on ‘Walls Of Sorrow’. On this record, bludgeoning riffs dominate and seek to devour anything and everything in their path. In my mind, I see many of the songs, particularly the riffs, as the musical equivalent to the inexorable and stubborn flow of lava down the side of an exploding volcano. Ultimately, try as you might, the lava will consume you, just like the thick, roiling riffs on this record; from them, there is no escape.
On the one hand, I could be disingenuous and suggest that the music is very simple and lacking in fireworks. To an extent, it is a truth of the ten tracks that make up this release. But it is the apparent simplicity in terms of song construction and solid delivery that becomes one of the album’s charms after a few spins, alongside the authenticity that Solonen exudes through his music. The simplicity and unfussy nature of the music is strangely appealing and magnetic, pulling you back for repeated listens. For one, Solonen never veers away from his gruff vocal delivery that is part raspy whisper and part gravelly growl.
The other, greater pull for me is the use of melody within the songs, some of which are a little unexpected but which are almost entirely welcome and well-crafted. Tracks like the utterly epic and majestic ‘Fearless’ and ‘Shadows Of The Past’ inject memorability into the Infirmum material, reminiscent of bands like Swallow The Sun in terms of the fragile beauty and aching melancholy that these songs convey within the confines of crushing and bruising extreme metal.
‘Cause Of Sorrow’ throws perhaps the only curveball of the album, thanks to a groove-laden riff that churns with a distinctly American flavour. It also reminds me a little of Gorefest for some reason too.
And, despite what I suggested earlier, ‘Walls Of Sorrow’ isn’t all funeral pacing, as ‘Autumn Breeze’ articulates via a swift, surprising change, as if Solonen is suddenly jabbed in the ribs like a Stallion by it’s rider. The drumming approaches blastbeat territory but there’s still infinite control within the speedier material, never getting out of hand. And, whilst not exactly brisk, there’s a more up-tempo feel to ‘Sail Away’ which I enjoy quite a bit. Come to think of it, the Gothic-tinged melodeath-like opener ‘To Darkness’ isn’t a slouch either, at least within the verses, which almost skip along, only to release into a solemn, atmospheric chorus that becomes a real grower.
The more I allow the music on ‘Walls Of Sorrow’ to infiltrate my playlist, the more I find that it gets under my skin and the more I want to listen to it. It’s a great album to play if you want to just bang your head or get lost in the power of the riff. The fact that Solonen then laces the music with some great melodies just adds that little bit extra for me and means that I have no choice but to like this record even more. A world-beater it may not be, but ‘Walls Of Sorrow’ by Infirmum is an album that has made an unexpected positive impact on me and is almost certain to find a spot in my collection in the near future.
The Score of Much Metal: 80%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: