As ye eagle-eyed readers may note, we published a review of this very same album, like, just a few days ago. However, we just couldn't deny Izzy--the Sleeping Village's self-proclaimed reviewer of all things screamy, dreamy, and inbetweeny--a chance to discuss the latest opus from Infant Island. Enjoy this review redux! - Ed.
Not too long ago I reviewed Infant Island’s latest EP, Sepulcher, and along with my mountains of praise for the band, I promised I would do a full-length write-up on the LP they had just announced, Beneath. I fully intended on fulfilling that promise, so here we are. I’ve been in love with this Virginia post-hardcore/screamo revival outfit since I first discovered them in 2018 with their self titled album, and so I cannot wait to talk about it. (Despite taking a little over a week to actually write this due to circumstances beyond my control.)
Sepulcher blew my mind, so I came into this with high hopes, and Infant Island certainly delivered. However, this is truly an example of an album I love, but think could’ve been something more, or maybe something else. That said, I want to end this review on a positive note, so I’ll begin with my few complaints.
This album, in true screamo style, is rather brief, and attempts to deliver its vicious emotional blows in not a second longer than it needs to--and does, in fact, deliver some of simply the best screamo I’ve ever heard in its 9 tracks and 26 minutes. One of my main problems arises with the fact that three of those tracks are noise/ambient interludes that take up about seven whole minutes of the runtime. The music is drenched in this cold, dark atmosphere, the album as a whole feels titanic and foreboding, and while these tracks help build that atmosphere, they also slightly stunt the album’s momentum. It doesn’t reach its maximum potential energy, and makes the album feel much shorter than it really is. As such, its end feels sudden and I’m desperately craving more each and every time.
My only other nitpick goes hand-in-hand: I wish the album was longer, and in-and-of-itself that is a form of praise. The material on this album is so amazing I feel like the 19 minutes of skramz bliss we get doesn’t satiate me, leaving an empty pit of desire in me lusting for even a little more. I would love for a deluxe or expanded edition, because just a little more is all it would take to set this album from great to album of the year, a 35 or 40 minute project like this would make me so happy I could cry (and would absolutely do so), although perhaps simply listening to Beneath and Sepulcher together would solve that. Whether intentional or not, this album teases me, being so phenomenal that I’m utterly addicted, but ending far too quickly.
Now that I’m done excessively yearning and getting flustered over a piece of music, I gotta talk about why I love it so much. Beneath is an amalgamation of so many different styles that I can’t even keep track: sections of haunting post-rock before emotional breakdowns, howling cries like a wounded animal soaked in blackened bitter enmity, and the crushing weight of post-metal gravitas, every piece seeping out this harrowing and primordial emotion I cannot truly name. More than just something simple like sadness or anger, it rips through like nothing else.
Over the course of writing this review, I have listened to this entire album five more times, and the more I listen the more I realize, while maybe on a single play-through this album feels like it does not deliver on its momentum. It only hits harder and harder each subsequent time, it builds up a centrifugal like force. Every time I hear the harsh yet beautiful ambient transition of “Signed In Blood” into “Content”, or pick out “Stare Spells” from the tracklist only to leave it to drift off into “Someplace Else,” guiding the album gently into the night, I can’t help but be awestruck by them, each moment like that happening throughout this album and how every section connects perfectly.
In hindsight, this project took me through all the stages of grief as I diligently typed away on this review, and now I feel like I reached the plateau and my mind is clear, I love this album for what it is and am wholly satisfied with it, all I can ask for is that Infant Island never lose their passion and continue to release more innovative and undefinable hybrids of metal and punk like this for many years to come.
Infant Island - Beneath was released on May 15, 2020, on Dog Knights Productions
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!