It’s been three and a half long years since the last full length release from Fredericksburg, VA blackened screamo act Infant Island, but they will return with a new album called Obsidian Wreath on January 12 via Secret Voice, the new label run by Touché Amoré frontman Jeremy Bolm.
2020 is not a year many of us care to remember, but the music of the time is remembered fondly as the balm it was for our locked down bodies and minds; and for those of us with an affinity for extreme metal and the gnarliest offshoots of hardcore and emo, Infant Island’s LP Beneath and preceding EP Sepulcher announced themselves as monumental achievements that have only aged like fine wine in the intervening years.
Bolm’s label Secret Voice incidentally released a stunning 30+ track long compilation earlier this year called Balladeers, Redefined (but which could just have easily have been called The State of Screamo in 2023) featuring a standalone song by Infant Island that closed out the track listing, which should tell you everything you need to know about the esteem this band is held in by this scene.
Digressions aside, Obsidian Wreath is, according to the press release accompanying the announcement, “an album about the hopelessness of the slow violent decay of the world.” That’s probably a by-product of the material for the record having been entirely written in 2020, you know, the year that the planet appeared to be sliding down the proverbial toilet, environmentally, socially, politically and any other -ally you can think of. Then again, it’s not entirely out of step with the established Infant Island modus operandi.
Accompanying the album announcement is the release of the record’s opening track, “Another Cycle”, and after falling into an obsessive spiral of listening to it literally dozens of times on repeat, I am ecstatic to report that Infant Island’s ambitions appear to have no limits.
The band’s gradual move away from a classic early screamo sound to a sound influenced by modern American extreme metal reaches its apotheosis on “Another Cycle”. With production helmed again by Matthew Michel (Majority Rule/Nø Man), Infant Island have pushed the limits of their sound once more, most prominently adding orchestral arrangements which sit in the back of the mix, augmenting the drama created by the rolling blast beats, searing guitar parts, and inhuman death growls. The effect is similar to experiencing first-hand the cacophonous ecstasy of Godspeed You! Black Emperor at their most violent, but with a vocalist who sounds like a giant from Attack on Titan inhaling his hapless victims in front of you.
“Another Cycle” is so astonishing that I can’t really adequately describe it, you have to experience it for yourself. As my esteemed Beats Per Minute colleague, Joshua Pickard, put it during our water cooler chat, “that is almost unbelievably good.” So, take it from me, and take it from Josh, mark the 12th of January in your calendars, because Infant Island are going to set the bar for 2024.
Listen to “Another Cycle” below or find the track on streamers.