There is no light on Tristitiae, the uncompromising new album from the Appalachian atmospheric black metal project Ad Infinitum. The thick, pummeling music packs the voluminous force of a blizzard in which the snow stings and visibility has ground down to just inches. The songs feel like a stunning capture of moments of raw devastation, like emotional misery has been inextricably intermingled with the highs and lows of real physical tumult. The music could easily soundtrack wandering around in some environment in which everything is covered with snow to the point of elements proving entirely unrecognizable, with no sign of civilization or safety in sight. Tristitiae sonically captures a curse of painful eternal wandering.
The album marvelously combines melodic black metal’s drama, post-black metal’s sense of hugeness, and the devastating oppression that runs through the rawest black metal of all sorts.
The guitar riffs streak along with lacerating ferocity, and the drums support the piercing melodies with super heavy hits. Throughout the songs, Ad Infinitum maintains a melodic bent, and the listener can follow along with frequently big, booming, dramatic melodies that ring out amidst the sonic haze, but these moments of mildly accessible familiarity are absolutely buried underneath a suffocating hailstorm of frigid synth ambiance, hoarse feedback, and menacingly howling vocals. Taken together, the music feels like it captures a sonic portrait of moments of absolute disaster, and the music feels so physically present that the destruction at hand easily feels physical too. The feeling of progressing through the album could be compared to the feeling of getting mercilessly torn up by an onslaught of bone-chilling, oxygen-stealing winds amidst a howling blizzard.
The dynamics that Ad Infinitum includes on Tristitiae, like guitar riffs that rear back with a foreboding hugeness on “Floating,” simply feed right back into the album’s overall sonic oppression. “Transit” even features a relative softness to the rhythm, which is led off by synth tones, but there’s a real, palpable, somber frigidity. The perhaps surprising intricacy — it’s definitely not all blast beats and breakneck-paced guitar riffing, not to mention the always looming frigid synths — provides a jumping off point for the music’s ice pick to the soul, like the opening segments of “ND Realm,” in which the music lurches into gear with slow, agony-packed somberness.
Check out the music below!