Inquisition is a metal band that formed in Cali, Colombia in 1988 and later relocated to Seattle, Washington. The band possessed a thrash metal sound on its earliest recordings, but began incorporating more black metal influences in 1998 with its full-length debut, Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult.
Inquisition was formed in 1988 in Cali, Colombia, by Dagon as a thrash metal act named Guillotine. The band changed their name to Inquisition in 1989. The name, frontman Dagon later explained, was chosen because it represented humanity's "need to establish dominance, control and order based on a particular period of our world's history". Dagon viewed this historical event as emblematic of "man's general need to impose his rule over others". In 1996, Dagon relocated to the United States and recruited Incubus on drums and Debandt on bass. Debandt departed the band shortly after the release of Inquisition's full-length debut, Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult. The band chose to remain a two-piece and all subsequent releases were recorded solely by Dagon and Incubus.
Dagon has suggested that the band's formation in Colombia and subsequent development in the United States affected Inquisition's sound. Observing that "Many second and third world countries have an environment in them that suits Black Metal and Death Metal perfectly," Dagon explained that "life in some of them mean nothing. The high social tension and rebellion in those areas of the world only intensify this music and make 'evil' much more of a reality". Recalling "seeing people get shot and stabbed by the Cali and Medellin cartel", Dagon portrayed the environment surrounding the band's formative years as "true darkness in flesh and blood". He described Inquisition as combining "the South American attitude" with "the musicianship and skills of the European scene". Dagon later downplayed geographic and cultural influences in favour of emphasizing the band's metaphysical inspiration: "I don't think of anything particular in our music as being rooted in a particular area culturally. Sure, there can be external influences based on geographical location, or your heritage can play a role, but in this band's case it just doesn't happen. We keep things detached from that and aim for a sound that is inspired from a much more distant and mystical element".
In 2012, the band signed with the French label Season of Mist. The band's label debut, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, was released on October 25, 2013 (October 29 in North America).
Inquisition started as a thrash metal band in the vein of Sadus and Kreator, but became increasingly oriented towards black metal. Dagon explained that thrash "had gotten stagnant", which led him towards black metal as it was a "guitar-driven" form of music that did not sound so "dated" and "uninteresting". The band described their sound as black metal with "slow, deep and dark riffing", "sudden tempo changes", and "melodic soloing". These stylistic elements were mixed with "old school thrash metal-influenced riffs", "darker and more chaotic black metal", and "fast, tremolo picked minor-key guitar riffs". The band has cited Bathory's The Return as well as the music of Burzum, Immortal and Polish black metal as influential.
Inquisition's recordings have not featured a bass guitar since their debut, Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult. Dagon explained that he and Incubus "had too many problems finding a bass player years ago" and gave reasons ranging from drug addiction to the absence of a complimentary ideological orientation. He said that he plays his guitar in such a way that the bass is unnecessary:
We have the bare minimum needed to create Satanic music in the form of Black Metal: a guitar, drums and a voice. With this simplistic formula, I believe that this adds to the magic of our hymns. You can do so much with so little, it is all about how creative you can or want to be, it is about your capabilities.
Dagon has said that his vocals are intentionally inhuman in order to represent an unseen demonic entity that conveys the lyrical themes. While some critics have described Dagon's singing style as "reptilian",Metal Hammer journalist Robert Müller compared Dagon's voice to Kermit the Frog. Responding to the comparison, Dagon described the intent and history of his approach:
Back in the day when I was thinking about a vocal style for Inquisition, I came to the conclusion that I did not want something screamed out at the top of my lungs. So many people were doing that, and still are, and identity is important to me, so I figured what can I do that the majority are not doing; meanwhile I kept hearing this idea in my head of a spoken like inhuman form of vocals chanting over very heavy and at times fast music creating a contrast. That's why when people say it sounds like a frog or anything else I feel I obtained what I wanted, I achieved that goal of keeping the human factor out of the vocal chants.
Dagon cited early Graveland and Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas as influential to his vocal approach.
Another notable element of the Inquisition sound is Incubus' blast beat style, in which the snare works together with the hi-hat or ride while alternating the two bass drums, as opposed to alternating the snare and kick, the more traditional form. This style is somewhat uncommon in black metal, being used much more prevalently in death metal.
Over time, the band's compositions have become increasingly complex. Dagon has referenced Baroque composers as among his greatest inspirations:
The greatest composers of the Baroque period inspire me a great deal, more so than any other form of music. The flamboyant and excessively tonal and predictable style of that period's music amazes me more than any other period in the universe of music. The Baroque composers took music to a level never seen or heard before, light years ahead of its time, and also served as the core of inspiration and influence on the period that followed. The masters never feared taking expression to the highest levels amidst the complexity of their compositions, and they did not let technique get in the way of feeling. They were perfectly balanced in technique and emotion, two worlds merged into one masterpiece. Music is expression and should be a sophisticated tool for displaying the different levels of the human mind which go unseen.
Dagon defines black metal as "music that speaks for Satan, proving the existence of its force...Black Metal in essence must begin with the recognition of Satan as the foundation of the Black Metal code. This is where Black Metal began and this is how it must be, always, there should be no doubts." He described black metal as Satan expressed "through sound waves" and affirmed "individualism, elitism, rebellion against unnecessary control, pride with a cause" as virtues celebrated by Satanism. Dagon cited "demonic art" such as "old diabolic woodcuts made in times when Satan was a real threat to people" as well as books on the occult, black magic, and demonology as lyrical inspirations. Dagon's lyrics are overtly Satanic, and address both theistic and LaVeyan forms of Satanism, as well as pre-Christian incarnations of evil such as Baphomet, a demon from Babylonian religion.
Over time, Inquisition incorporated increasingly cosmic and metaphysical themes into its music. Dagon confirmed that these themes represent an extension and elaboration of Satanism. For Dagon, the "energy" of Satan is "everywhere", including the "cosmic dust that forms the ground we walk on and even who we are. Every cosmic molecule is in you and will eventually crumble and die, recycling itself back with the stars...space in general is simply the most real heaven and the most real hell you will ever come across alive or dead."
Dagon - vocals, guitars (1988-present),
Incubus - drums (1996-present),
John Santa - drums (1988-1994),
Endhir Xo Kpurtos - drums (1996),
Debandt - bass,
Cesar Santa - bass (1989),
Carlos Arcila - keyboards, flute
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