E x | I s t is a rather staggering effort when one takes into account the fact that it's the work of a single man, Andras. Not like the advent of the one man black metal entity is new to Europe (they started it), but few such projects have such a massive, swelling sound as this one that shows such a rapt attention to the detail of each instrument. Infestus have released two albums in the past, but neither was cast at this level of spacious immersion, an affront to the very notion of hope and happiness, seeking to suck the light of day unto itself and drown it in the all invasive gloom. There's also a notable amount of variation through the seven tracks, ranging from periods of peak, enveloping atmosphere to straight rushes of thickly adorned, straightforward German black metal.
The considerable opener "Akoasma" builds anticipation with its trailing, haunted melodies and whispered, implied heresy, metered by a rock like drum beat that inevitably thunders into a double bass segment; but the real storm surges forward in "Down Spiral Depersonification", a piece that rambles through faster and slower segments while the backing guitars filter through the surrounding carapace of sound like motes of gray dust. "Darkness Blazing in the Flame of Fire" and "Mirror Mind Reality" seek to further the forward thrust of the album's more traditional metallic aesthetics, both clocking in around 9 minutes, but neither is allowed to saunter about for too long without some dynamic shifting that re-asserts the creative awning of despair flooded melody. Also of interest would be the thundering, majestic mid point "Torn Observer" and its chugged ballast; and "Der Blick Hianus" and its sorrow-struck, clean intro.
Despite the obvious competence of Andras across numerous instruments, this is another of those black metal artists who place emphasis on the overall cohesion and mood of the album above the individual riffing. That's not to imply a dearth of intricacy, because there are always numerous channels of sadness and spite being directed through the course of its dictation; but this is not an album you will listen to if you're interesting in some blazing, enthusiastic guitar line. E x | I s t wants its audience to stand back and assimilate its entirety, its peaks and valleys of tempo and emotionally draining weight. I've read that the concept of this album is rooted in schizophrenic interpretations of a disturbed individual, and you can hear this in the varied tumult of the tracks' pacing. If you're fond of atmospheric German black metal like Thorngoth or Geist, then this album is easily enough recommended for examination, because the effort shines (or rather deadens) through.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]