Album Title: The Ugly Truth
Label: Rockshots Records
Date of Release: 26 February 2021
Something a little different for you all today, in the form of a new entity by the name of Infernalizer. Trawling through my review offerings, I saw the name Disarmonia Mundi, and decided to investigate a little further. ‘The Ugly Truth’, as it transpires, is the debut from Claudio Ravinale under his new Infernalizer moniker. Best known as the vocalist for Italian melodic death metal band Disarmonia Mundi, Ravinale has also been involved with The Silverblack, 5 Star Grave and The Stranded, not that I am familiar with any of these admittedly.
I read on and nearly dismissed it, as the press release talks about an eclectic range of influences, some that I like, whilst others I don’t. On the one hand, we’re told that there’s a bias towards 80s classic heavy metal, then on the other, we’re told that the music is influenced by the likes of Rob Zombie, Sisters Of Mercy, and Danzig, with a healthy Gothic element. However, as I read, I started listening to the music and you know what? I was pleasantly surprised. The music on ‘The Ugly Truth’ is definitely not my normal listening fare, but there’s something about it that I quite like. I suspect that it is similar to when we’re drawn magnetically to look at car crashes, or excruciating television rather than a love of the music but the fact remains that I keep listening.
The first thing to say is that the production is appalling. This might be because of the promo I’m listening to, but there’s no clarity; it’s muddy, distant and there’s an audible hiss when the cymbals are struck. It must be a dodgy promo because we’re told that the album was mastered at Sterling Sound Studio (Nashville, TN) by ‘Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer Ted Jensen (Guns N’ Roses, Pantera, Alice In Chains)’. I’ll put it down to a poor mp3 stream.
Regardless of the sound, there is something about the music. It is infectious, it is heavy, it is full of over-the-top Gothic theatrics, and for the most part, it is catchy as hell. I really don’t think that this is a record that’s supposed to be taken overly seriously and that being the case, I enjoy the music more. It might be shrouded in dark atmospheres, but there’s a sense of fun that comes across. As Ravinale states, ‘…honestly being the bad guy sometimes is quite a funny and entertaining experience…’ Fair play.
This is going to be an album that many will hate, and if I’m honest, I’m not sure of the shelf-life it’ll have with me either. But, for the time being, I’m indulging in the sounds of ‘The Ugly Truth’ and deriving some decent pleasure from the experience.
In its favour is the fact that it’s a short, sharp affair. The album is comprised of ten songs that clock in around the 36-minute mark. As such, none of the songs outstay their welcome, hovering between three and four minutes each in the main. Normally, I’d bemoan the brevity, but in this case, I think it’s ideal.
The album is book-ended by two instrumentals, ‘Night Shift’ and ‘Autumn Of Terror’. The opener is a dark, theatrical, and atmospheric synth-led piece that builds the tension and sets the scene nicely. The melodies are strong and the distant, wailing guitar embellishments that turn into a slow riff late on captured my attention.
With my attention surprisingly caught, the follow-up, ‘The Outsider’ then pulls me further in, albeit kicking and screaming. The opening riff and synths call to mind a bright and breezy 80s melodic rock number to confuse things. But then, the vocals arrive and the atmosphere changes to a much more overtly Gothic darkwave affair, albeit with strong catchy melodies remaining. Ravinale moves between a higher-pitched semi-growl, part whisper, heavily effected, and a deeper croon. I cannot provide credit to the musicians individually as I am unaware of those involved. But the guitar work is pretty good, whilst the bass naturally offers a commanding presence at the lower end.
I’m also a fan of ‘Leaving So Soon?’ even though some of the vocals cause me to cringe inwardly. The chorus is dominated by shouted, harsh vocals as well as cheesy backing vocals, but regardless, the damn thing is so catchy that I find myself fully embracing the song. It’s another strong, hook-laden affair, whilst there’s a nice guitar solo towards the end.
However, it takes until the fourth track, ‘In Retrospect’ for Infernalizer to deliver what I’d call a ‘proper’ heavy metal riff. And when it arrives, it’s fast and urgent. The chorus is another catchy beast with more shouted ‘gang’ vocals and it is one of my favourites. Mind you, the cinematic, heavy chugging ‘Cruel Intentions’ is another winner as far as I’m concerned.
If I’m honest, there are a couple of tracks later on that I’m less keen on, such as the title track, despite some properly heavy riffing in places. ‘In This World Or The Next’ is a little ‘take it or leave it’ too. But the Type O Negative cover of ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Me’ is actually rather good, despite the random dog barking vocal sounds.
All-in-all, ‘The Ugly Truth’ has been a bit of a surprise for me. I’ve never been the biggest Goth or darkwave fan but when mixed with some decent heavy metal trappings as is the case here, I have given myself over to the music and enjoyed it. It won’t feature at the top of my end-of-year charts, and I desperately hope that the finished article will sound better than the stream suggests. But regardless, Infernalizer is definitely a new act that should not be avoided. Take a listen and embrace your inner Goth.
The Score of Much Metal: 75%
Further reviews from 2021:
Temperance – Melodies Of Green And Blue EP
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: