No messing about: this is probably the most soul-crushing black metal release you’ll hear this year. Originally released in limited quantities in 2015, Hacia el Vórtice has been given a re-release by Signal Rex and Atavism Records, and it’s a damn good thing, too. Even though it’s only the debut release by Invehertex, Hacia el Vórtice is possessed of such force and spirit that it makes most other black metal records seem hopelessly tame and obsolete. This is black metal that captures the windswept, primordial chaos that is at the heart of the genre, unleashing its malevolence over a staggering 78 minutes. Not for the faint of heart, Hacia el Vórtice is a challenging record to approach; but once you have spent time with it, allowing its darkness to seep in to your soul, it seems undeniable that this is a masterpiece of underground black metal.
It’s important to approach Hacia el Vórtice with the understanding that it will not reveal all of its facets and strengths easily. The raw, cold and cavernous production keeps the music slightly obscure, with the dominating, demonic vocals being the most prominent element – but even then, they are more sounds than words to be heard clearly, their strength and impact resting in the conviction and emotion expressed. Furious blizzards of guitars are the norm, with drumming of such intensity that maintaining it over the length of some of these songs (two of which are over twenty minutes each) is, frankly, superhuman. Whilst many of these elements can be found in other black metal bands, both new and old, the way they are harnessed here, with such arrogance and fury, is incredibly rare. Similarly, whilst the songs do possess dynamics and clear movements, there are none of the post-rock or otherwise non-metal influences that are so prevalent in much modern black metal. Instead, the tempo shifts, movements and patterns all draw from the black metal rule book, albeit in ways that are undeniably stunning, making old techniques feel new and thrilling again. Likewise, the atonality and discord of songs such as the title track may no longer be inherently novel, but the way they are used, and the atmosphere created, makes it feel as if it is.
But Invehertex make you work for such revelations. Upon initial listens, the scope and intensity of Hacia el Vórtice makes it feel overwhelming – there is so much here to process that it feels impossible, and a kind of hypnotic numbness can be the result. This is worthy enough in its own right – and puts many black metal bands striving for such a goal to shame – but it is not the true strength of the album. That is only revealed later, as repeated listens and time spent devoted to Hacia el Vórtice help the listener to take in and understand the record. To this end, the inclusion of several atmospheric interlude tracks by the band is a smart move, helping give even those listeners familiar with Hacia el Vórtice time to reflect upon what they are experiencing. And experience is the right word here – it is an album not so much heard as it is felt, its darkness resonating with something buried in your soul. Perhaps the modern world has stripped away that primitive part of you. If so, it is your loss.
As I’m hopefully making clear, Hacia el Vórtice is the kind of record that reaches in to the other, the beyond, those parts of darkness that have no place in this world but are inherently tied to it. The forces it tap in to go beyond mere humanity and in to nature – not just of this world, but of the cosmos beyond. It is the kind of record that feels both old and new; of this world and separate to it. If it sounds like I’m fawning, it’s because I am. There have been black metal records and bands in recent years that have impressed me with their interpretation of the human condition, such as Mgla and Palace Of Worms. Not since my young, unsuspecting self was exposed to Deathspell Omega some ten years or so ago have a band impressed me so much with their unhumanity as Invehertex do, with the sense that their music is coming from someplace beyond ordinary comprehension. This is as close to essential listening as any modern black metal record can be. Absolutely fucking stunning.
Hacia el Vórtice is set for re-release by Signal Rex and Atavism Records on June 3rd 2016. It will be available for streaming and download via Bandcamp, and can be pre-ordered on digipak CD via the Signal Rex webstore.