It’s been a year and a half since I first got to hear INFERNAL OPERA on CD. That debut album Emissary of Steel certainly made an impact on a then-fledgling Amps and Green Screens and now we are pleased to bring you an exclusive look at the new record The Avenging Phoenix. As previously stated I’ve known drummer Michael Alberque nearly two decades and his dedication to the metal scene both locally and nationally is to be commended. He also happens to be a very good drummer who doesn’t fuck around when it comes to the songs. He and his partner in crime Volpe Vetrano are the sole remaining members since the last disc. They went and found players who shared their vision for how INFERNAL OPERA should take shape moving forward, and the results are pretty damn good, I must say. Plus the album artwork is out of this world!! If it’s not on a T-shirt soon I might snap!
After intro “The Incarnate” first track “Uprising” is a galloping metal number that quickly introduces us to guitarists Randy Gonce and Mike Campanile as well as bassist Stev Von Römer.The introduction turns into a big ol’ metal hug of sound with “Powerlord”, one of my favorites and the perfect showcase for some fucking outstanding guitar work from these two. Also of note is Von Römer’s bass because it is all kinds of popping on each and every song. You may not know who he is before you pop the record in, but I guarantee you’ll have his name memorized by the time it’s over! “Upon the Blade” keeps that classic power metal feel and this is one of Vetrano’s most commanding performances on the album.
“Arm the Dead” is a thick and chunky riffer, like wading through toxic sludge, and when Vetrano sings, “No man alive is worth my steel” all you can do is say, “Cut that fucker anyway!” Also, the dual solo on this one is pretty badass. I was intrigued by how “Sinister Angel” started off because it’s very clean and slightly eerie. Then it gives way to a haunting melody and chunky riff that looks like it’s going one way then hits the gas and takes off. “The Devil Himself” is another one that gallops along in standard metal fashion before “Exodus” knocked me on my ass with its opening prayer, fierce rhythms, and Volpe’s dominating presence. The mix on this record is leagues above the last one, and you can really hear/feel it on this song, one of the album’s best.
Interlude “Sight Beyond Sight” gives way to “Eyes in the Dark” which is a fitting dedication to KING DIAMOND, particularly on the vocals. She really pays homage to the man, yes sir. Now we come to one I was truly enthralled with “Forgotten Pharaoh.” I kept coming back to this one because it is classic heavy metal personified and the rhythm section really shines here. Let’s face it, “Hails!” is one that’s right up my alley with those fucking guitars and the swords and conquering aspect, so call this one a winner as well. The record closes with the title track, 7:51 of metal that charges forward looking to vanquish all that stand in their way, dammit!
All told this is a giant step forward for INFERNAL OPERA. As good as the debut was The Avenging Phoenix buries it in the sand. From the production and mix to Volpe’s outstanding vocals, to the incredible guitar work this is the album that should get labels off their asses to see what all the fuss is about.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Forgotten Pharaoh”, “Exodus”, “Hails!”, “Powerlord”, “Arm the Dead”