After 2016’s The Great Mortality explored the grim details of the bleak period of history in which the Black Death became the deadliest pandemic in human history, East Anglian black metallers The Infernal Sea have returned to the Middle Ages to explore the hatred and prejudice lying at the heart of the Crusades for follow-up album Negotium Crucis. In characteristic style, the album spares no grisly detail, diving headfirst into a wretched strain of blackened mayhem characterised by terrifying speeds and a sadistically savage guitar tone, but also a slight black’n’roll inclination which injects a much appreciated groove into the band’s otherwise serrated compositions.
It’s refreshing to see a band using the past to make salient points about the horrors humans inflict upon each other instead of adopting an evil aura for the sake of being kvlt, so we were keen to find out more about this gloomy and conceptual album. Below, the band have put together a guide to each of the album’s eight tracks, revealing more about the specific historical inspirations and the story that the album as a whole tells.
Destruction Of Shum
The Rhineland massacres throughout history have often been referred to as the first known incident of anti-Semitism. The Church declared war on Judaism, giving the ultimatum to convert to Christ or simply die where you stand. All opposition was met with extreme prejudice and violence.
This song is simply about the fall of The Brotherhood, a military order sanctioned by the church, one that became too powerful and greedy. Due to unpopular opinion amongst the Christian faithful, the church had to act. The church could no longer be associated with the Knights Templar, who had committed acts of treason and genocide, even if the orders came direct from the Church.
God Wills It
During many periods, acts of cannibalism were committed during long sieges. Restrictions and even tactics were commonly used to simply starve the opposition out. Knights and men-at-arms alike were forced to feast on human flesh and repent to God for their bloodthirsty sin.
Field Of The Burned
In 1244 the Cathar fortress of Montségur was besieged. Following the siege, over 200 Cathar ‘perfecti’ (pacifists) voluntarily burned on a huge pyre at the ‘Prat dels Cremates’ (Field of the Burned) as part of the surrender. Although they were not murdered, they too were unfortunate casualties in this war of fruitless faiths.
Devoid Of Fear
Here we delve into the Albigensian Crusade. This particular bloodbath was initiated to eliminate Catharism, a sect of Gnostic Christians in southern France. Condemned by local Church councils, it was declared that all Cathars should be imprisoned. In 1208, Pope Innocent III declared a crusade against the Cathars; extreme violence and campaigns of sheer hatred were used to capture lands and preach the “true” teachings. As a result of this genocide, by the middle of the 14th century, all traces of Catharism had been eradicate.
Taken from Latin, the title loosely translates as “Affair Of The Cross” or “Business Of The Faith”. The track draws inspiration from a period where all unbelievers were deemed heretics in the eyes of the Church. Here we explore the aggressive methods the Knights Templar adopted to “convert” non-believers to the Christian faith.
The Northern Crusades were established to “Christianise” the Baltic countries. War was declared against “Baltic heathens”, the Crusaders enforced a military presence throughout Estonia and Latvia and successfully laid claim to The Land of Mary (Terra Mariana). This was just one of many crusades which occurred during the period of 1198-1290 in which thousands suffered and died at Pope Innocent III’s command.
Towards the end of the Knights Templar’s reign, the Church condemned them of heresy, sodomy and practising witchcraft. The Church turned on the force they had used to “purify” many lands and previously heralded as heroes. The crimes they were accused of were acts of treason, they were soon put to death. The Inquisition were employed to question the Knights Templar and restore the popularity of the Church in the face of the public.
Negotium Crucis is out 18th September on Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Order here.
Words: George Parr