stream Infant Island’s new single “Stare Spells” & surprise mini-LP ‘Sepulcher’
Fredericksburg, Virginia screamo band Infant Island recently revealed that they'd follow their great 2019 split with Frail Body, Massa Nera, and dianacrawls with their sophomore album, Beneath, on May 15 via Dog Knights Productions, and the announcement was accompanied by the ambient track "Someplace Else," which is a beautiful song but a big tease when you're hoping for pulverizing screamo. Well, today you can hear a second single that's much closer to what you'd expect from Infant Island, and that's not all you can hear. Along with the second single comes a surprise-released mini-LP, Sepulcher. Guitarist/vocalist Alex Rudenshiold tells us how two records in one year came to be:
The whole timeline for these releases was so convoluted and drawn out that maybe it makes sense to start back in 2018: early on after we released our self-titled album, we decided that we wanted to record with Matt Michel from Majority Rule, we all really love his band and had seen them at their reunion show in Richmond with Pg99 — so we got in touch and scheduled the recording dates for Beneath in late December of that year. However, we ended up changing drummers in October, so with only one song for the album written we had to finish the thing in about 5 weeks, a short period of time considering that we had to acclimate to working with a new member. So, we ended up at Matt’s house in December frantically trying to finish these songs which we’d written in a really short period of time, taking lunch breaks to finish lyrics, improvising extra bits as we went, etc., and somehow, it ended up turning out (I think) extremely well. We had all of the core components recorded by early January, and then Austin O’Rourke, our new drummer, ended up taking an additional 8 months to write interludes and extra parts — violins, cellos, glockenspiel, piano, etc. — to fill the songs out as much as possible.
Of course in the meantime, we didn’t want to start writing new material, but it’s pretty hard to spend a year without writing anything — which is how Sepulcher started, with halfway written those songs I’d worked on while we waited for Beneath to get finished. We ended up recording these songs in late December 2019 with our friend Michael Toney from Black Matter Device, the only other heavy band in our small town, and Austin is mixing them as I write this, a real nail-biter. Irrespective of the process though, I feel like both of these albums contain our heaviest and most fun material to date on them; both of them feel more pertinent now than ever both thematically and tonally, often circling themes of isolation and environmental collapse. It’s hard to stay positive in times like this, and I think these albums reflect that.
Both Sepulcher and the new Beneath single "Stare Spells" are very worth hearing. Sepulcher has just four tracks, but they're all monsters and each one shows off a different side of Infant Island. Opener "Burrow" is a succinct, two-and-a-half minute dose of loud, chaotic screamo that finds Infant Island operating within a lineage of bands like Orchid and the aforementioned pg.99, and it's the only song on this EP like it. "Unspoken" is droney, sludgy hardcore that sounds like a modern-day cross between Godflesh and Eyehategod, and "Phantom Whines" is a meditative white-noise track that acts as the calm before the storm of closer "Awoken," Sepulcher's longest and best track. Throughout its ten, hard-earned minutes, "Awoken" toes the line between the harsher vibe of the first two songs and devastatingly gorgeous post-rock that gives bands like Caspian and Deafheaven a run for their money. I like all of Sepulcher a lot, but pulling off a song like "Awoken" is what separates the good bands from the great bands, and at this point in their career I feel very confident calling Infant Island a great band.
As for "Stare Spells," that's a great song too, and that's also a noticeably different-sounding song than anything on Sepulcher. It's got the musical depth of a song like "Awoken," but in a way that's driving and fast-paced, and it finds time for hard-hitting screamo, crystal clear post-rock, towering sludge riffs, tender acoustic guitar, and more. "Writing this song in particular was one of the most challenging things for me, creatively so far in this band," vocalist Daniel Kost tells us. "Personally, the song deals with a multitude of things that I’ve struggled with handling and processing for a very long time, over the course of my childhood and life, which I recently realized were affecting me in other ways that I had never imagined. I hope for Infant Island songs to be interpretational - leaving the listener to develop their own emotional release from whatever they struggle with, and If they connect with any of our songs, to me that’s truly special."
You can pre-order Beneath from the band directly in the US or from Dog Knights in the UK and EU. You can pick up Sepulcher now from Acrobat Unstable Records in the US, Zegema Beach Records in the US and Canada, Left Hand Label in the UK or EU, or from the band directly.
Listen to both Sepulcher and "Stare Spells" below: