• Words by Faye Coulman

UK black metal crew The Infernal Sea talk forthcoming London show, tribalism and brand new material


With the crippling double-whammy of COVID-19 and Brexit leaving this lonely little isle largely bereft of overseas black metal talent, we at Dark Matter have done more than our share of misty-eyed pining for our beloved, genre-defining Scandinavian icons. Yet, in the midst of these troubled and unprecedented times, the UK has thankfully continued to supply us with a plentiful wealth of vicious and highly innovative homegrown talent. And from the windswept grandiosity of genre royalty Winterfylleth to the flesh-scalding, percussive ultra-violence of Anaal Nathrakh, the sheer richness and diversity that characterises the scene has only become more keenly apparent in the absence of the aforementioned Nordic genre gods. Combining the craggy, brimstone-scorched viscerality of classic black metal with generous lashings of tautly muscled groove and filth-stricken rock trappings, English aggressors The Infernal Sea are doubtless among the most exciting features of this rich and fertile native scene. Ahead of their now-imminent live performance in the capital alongside Burial and Crimson Throne this Friday, frontman Dean Lettice brings us up to speed on what’s been a testing but hugely productive period for one of the most darkly compelling names in black metal…


“I think that's what's great about the UK. The fact that there aren’t really any bands over here that sound much like each other. We all sound different. We've all got our own take on it, and I think that's what makes it really unique,” comments The Infernal Sea’s Dean Lettice on the diverse and highly innovative shape of the UK’s presently flourishing black metal scene. Despite still being in its relative infancy by comparison with our Scandinavian brethren, anyone who’s taken at least a cursory glimpse into the glorious, brimstone-scorched abyss that is British black metal circa 2022 will hasten to agree that it’s an uncommonly exciting time to be a part of this movement. And among the various delectably frostbitten, brutalising and blackly flourishing variants currently thriving within its prestigious, ink-black echelons, The Infernal Sea have spent more than a full decade forging their own ferocious yet irresistibly groove-laden blend of intensely visceral, second wave aggression and brimstone-scorched rock. Paired with a theatrical array of deathly plague masks and flowing ceremonial robes, theirs is a ritual that revels in the darkest and most wretched facets of human history. Having released critically acclaimed third album ‘Negotium Crucis’ back in the ruinous thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, less than two years down the line and it seems the band are already in the final stages of crafting a follow-up.


“We're in the studio now,” Dean confirms. “Drums are being recorded at the moment, and we reckon in the next month we should have it all wrapped up. We're quite lucky that our drummer owns a studio so we can take our time a little bit with it and just get it right. We've embraced the black and roll aspect quite a lot this time around, so there's a lot more groovier elements on this record. Of course, we've always said in the past that we're more of a rock and roll band than we are a black metal band. But yeah, we have a lot more traditional sounding metal and rock in this now. So yeah, we're definitely following that path. I think it was there on ‘The Great Mortality’, and in ‘Negotium Crucis’ we kind of ramped it up even more with this record.”


Having long sourced inspiration from some of the most unspeakably vile and sadistic atrocities known to human civilisation, this most recent, as-yet-untitled album is guaranteed to tread similarly dark and thought-provoking territory. A fitting thematic accompaniment, then, for a band for whom unflinching, no-holds-barred extremity is everything. Dean elaborates: “‘The Great Mortality’ was about the Black Death and just how people reacted during that period and how they treated each other in some truly horrible, nasty ways. Then ‘Negotium Crucis’ was about the Knights Templar and how they kind of invaded everywhere and tried to convert everyone to Christianity and treated everybody in a horrific manner. Lyrically and conceptually, it’s something we've always done. All of our stuff is about how humanity treats other people and just how horrible we are as a species in general. I mean, as soon as we get any kind of power, it immediately turns to greed. And then greed turns into war and so on and so on. We're always trying to control something or belittle somebody or take over something, you know? Trying to build something or trying to destroy something.”

“And looking at what's going on with the Ukraine at the moment, it's clear we have not learned from the two previous world wars, or the Hundred Years’ War prior to that. We’ve had loads of invasions in this country and it never ends well and ends in thousands of people being killed in it. And it ends in millions of pounds of debt and destruction, and it's just pointless, you know, it doesn't achieve anything. Like, whether it's over certain territories or religion or whatever, it's just ridiculous. And I think as, for as long as we exist, that's going to be the issue. Humanity is quite tribal, like with gang crime as well. That's been going on, especially in the UK and all across the world, really and it's just that gang mentality again. If you look back at tribal times, there was that mentality there again. It was about being together and defending your land as such.”


Turning our attentions now to lighter and rather more optimistic conversational territory, Friday 25th February sees these talented aggressors bring their intensely abrasive, pitch-black carnage to the capital with support from Mancunian metal talents Burial and Crimson Throne. Of this hotly anticipated turn, Dean reveals: “We just try to create an atmospheric show that people are going to remember. Something quite visceral in sound and extreme-looking in aesthetic as well. Particularly with all the stage costumes and the eerie lighting and the smoke that we have to kind of silhouette us and just make us a bit more ominous and mysterious on stage. But yeah, mostly just expect nasty, horrible black metal blasted in your face.”


'The Apocalyptic Tour' kicks off on the 23rd February 2022 at The Craufurd Arms, Wolverton, with support from Burial, Crimson Throne and Abraxian


For full tour dates and more on The Infernal Sea, visit www.facebook.com/theinfernalsea