Houston Music

Balaclavas: Inferno

"Before me nothing but eternal things / Were made, and I endure eternally." These two lines, inscribed on the gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno, precede the more memorable "Abandon every hope, ye who enter here." But the former lines lend the latter credence: Hell is hopeless because it's forever. Houston dark-rock trio Balaclavas' Inferno (available on vinyl only) is a procession through this land of eternal sadness, as much a dissertation as an album. Balaclavas's musical interpretation of Dante's masterwork fits perfectly; it's exactly what you'd expect to hear if you were passing by lost souls being tortured by demon guards along the River Styx. Captured flawlessly by local producer Chris Ryan of Dead City Sound, the band's march-style drums and howling vocals combine into vicious, tribal post-punk, Gang of Four meets At the Drive In on an Indian Reservation without mimicry. Inferno's lyrics (most notably singer/guitarist/keyboardist Tyler Morris's numerous references to waking from a dead sleep) are littered with references to The Divine Comedy; Dante's journey is likewise filled with spells where he faints only to be awoken in another circle of hell. It's details like these that make Balaclavas's latest effort so impressive; you couldn't find a better soundtrack for Dante's 34 cantos outside Hell itself.

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Dusti Rhodes
Contact: Dusti Rhodes