It's rare for bands to release their album only a year after their previous longplay. Most that do this kind of thing often end up with songs sounding almost exactly the same as the ones they wrote before, Therapy– (with obligatory question mark) luckily, doesn't belong to this category. Released nineteen years ago, "Infernal Love" is a fine product of its time and experience the band has gathered in six years of it's existence.
After the success of "Troublegum", an amazing, honest album that managed to merge punk and metal, the Irish trio could take the easy way out and write songs just like those from 1994 release. Instead, they opted to slow down, and create an album considerably calmer and more melodic than their previous claims to fame.
Opening with "Epilepsy", one of the fastest and most punk songs on "Infernal Love", Therapy– set the bar high with both catchy riff, noisy "solo" parts and Andy Cairns' distinctive manner of singing. Not a classic punk song, it gets everything right, from the noise to the vocal harmonies between Cairns and bassist Michael McKeegan (whom some might know from his column in the Bass Guitar Magazine). A great opening for the whole album, it gives way to "Stories", a song more poppy and simplistic in its nature, but retaining the noisy soul of their previous releases. A Therapy– classic, it's deservedly cherished by fans for its groovy riff and extremely enjoyable chorus.
After these two wonderful tracks, Infernal Love slows down. The next three songs are slower and calmer, but nevertheless are powerful gems, which could easily come out of collaboration by Joy Division and heavier Fugazi. "A Moment Of Clarity" is perhaps the landmark of change the Therapy– has undergone, with its immense, spacious sound and reliance on melodies rather than chaotic, noisy riffs. Two following songs – "Jude The Obscene" and "Bowels Of Love" go in the footsteps of "A Moment...", creating overall slightly surreal, melancholic atmosphere. Despite similarities, each is easily distinguishable and as such, they don't seem just a lazy knock–offs of the first slower track.
And it's back to kicks in the teeth. "Misery" is yet another simple melodic punk song, with great melodies and simple riff. Despite rather basic chord progression and overall structure, it isn't a four–chord song you hear and forget, even if it might come across as weaker than the duo which opened the album.
The next two tracks are yet again Joy Divisionesque, slow tracks, but this time around they seem unpolished, even though on their own merit they are both rather decent. In no way are they boring, but they definitely could use some more attention during the creative process.
Ninth track, "Loose", is a fast pop–punk kicker, with seemingly silly lyrics and catchy hook, having just about everything one could want from mid 90s alternative scene. Utterly positive, it is in high contrast to the next track, "Diane". This Husker Du cover, taking on the topic of rape, is one of the best songs on "Infernal Love". Instead of doing a cover true to the Husker Du version, Therapy– do it in their own way, employing cello and post–punkish sound – quite a difference from poppy original. Depressing, gloomy and incredibly creepy, Cairns hits the melodies right on the spot, creating a magnificent study of human depravity and leaving the listener with a need of taking a thorough bath to rinse off the filth he's been covered in.
The closer, "30 Seconds", is somewhere between the poppy and gloomy songs on this album, on one hand being a rather fast, punkish song, but still sounding like a sped up and distorted Joy Division. A perfect finale for such an album, it is a link between the two worlds, making the longplay a whole, rather than schizofrenic in its nature.
The sound is distinctive, from the faster, punk songs to the slower and more epic gems like "A Moment...", none is mastered in repulsive manner. Only two songs with issues are "Bad Mother" and "Me vs You", but it can be written off as them being simply the weakest points of album. The tracks are linked by ambient music penned by David Holmes, Irish electronic musician, which establishes the unique atmosphere present throughout "Infernal Love".
Lyrics are flawless – from the dark humour, through the somewhat silly (and blasphemous, but that's alright) erotic lines in A Moment Of Clarity, to bitter and pissed off Misery, they lack nothing and fit in perfectly with the music of Infernal Love. And if, to quote Cairns "Happy people have no stories", this album must have happened at his lowest – the stories told by this longplay are masterfully executed.
Nineteen years have passed from the release, but in the era of overcompressed albums made by people who don't give that much of a toss about what they're doing, Infernal Love is still a relevant piece of art, firmly securing Therapy–'s cult status in Europe. Marking the transition from punk/metal band to a project more focused and brave enough to leave their comfort zone, "Infernal Love", despite at times coming across as schizophrenic , is a wonderful album, which manages to make it's weakest points fairly decent songs, which is more that can be said about many unimaginative fillers present on albums since the beginning of rock.