The Infinity Ring – Nemesis & Nativity


Boston music collective, The Infinity Ring, are not your typical band. Formed by scene veteran and genre-hopper, Cameron Moretti, the project gathered momentum in a 2021 collaboration with Swans legend, Jarboe. Since then, the group’s focus on producing a debut album saw them sign to Profound Lore and spend the entirety of 2022 preparing its release. Just as the band see no value in performing as an orthodox and permanent line-up, so it is with Nemesis & Nativity. Indeed, side A and side B could be two unrelated records, given the sonic differences between them.

One might characterise side A as a glum acceptance that one must learn to accept the world as it is, rather than how it ought to be. Melodies take their time to form. Guitars strum with light reverb and clean tones. Vocals stay within a gloomy bass range as if peppered with the dry throat of a prolific smoker. You can hear Leonard Cohen’s iconic voice in opener, ‘Crown of Stars’, which starts with an eerie violin and the type of droning horn you’d expect to hear in a dark television drama about reliving traumatic events long buried in one’s mind. How strange that they build from this platform with a meditative guitar translucence that could be from the Gish-era of the Smashing Pumpkins.

‘Temptress’ and ‘The Valley’ are more notable for their similarities rather than their distinctive features. Both follow their compass in the direction of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for inspiration. There’s nothing wrong with this. The swirling ambient shapes in the background pass over you like an invisible mist, but the attention to detail is striking. Eleven tracks of this nature would be a welcome palette-cleanse for those that enjoy the heavier and more extreme bands on the Profound Lore roster.

But something changes at track six. Cameron Moretti and co. refuse to be boxed away into a warehouse called “melancholy post-rock”.  The first signs of an impatient guitar tantrum emerge towards the end of ‘Gift of Life’ in a paradoxical serving of melody and dissonance. Now you can detect a restlessness in the drums. The pedal effects from the guitar amps froth with passive aggressive consciousness. Tense spoon rhythms and fog-horn samples permeate through the post-industrial menace of ‘Orpheus Dragonfly Satyr’. Can this be the same band on track eight and nine? You might doubt it when you experience the ethereal doom metal stylings of ‘Lazarus Millennium Sun’ and feel your ears bleeding under the weight of hissing distortion on the excellent ‘Wax & Oil’. The latter would not be out of place on Swans’ 1987 death-obsessed masterpiece, Children of God. Is it no wave, doom, or industrial? Is it all three? It doesn’t matter when the music is so intense and coated in filthy guitar noise.

The seven minutes and forty-nine seconds of the closing title track succeed in bringing the contrasts of side A and side B together in one last excoriation of life’s burdens. Melody is important. So is serenity. Yet they keep you in suspense with not one – but two – climactic episodes where all instruments lock in for a dynamic rush of anguished self-affirmation. Post-rock would be much easier to appreciate if it sounded as essential as this.

Nemesis & Nativity has few flaws. The structuring of the album risks losing the attention of those with heavier tastes, but it rewards those with patience and speaks to the forlorn resignation of those that gave up fighting for a better world at the beginning of this century.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 14/04/2023

Record Label: Profound Lore

Standout tracks: Crown of Stars, Gift of Life, Wax & Oil

Suggested Further Listening: Leonard Cohen – The Future (1992), Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – No More Shall We Part (2001), Swans – Children of God (1987)