Decline of the I descibe themselves as a cross between Burzum, Neurosis and Code. This makes reviewing Inhibition – their debut offering of post-black metal introversion – a relatively straightforward proposition, since they’ve said exactly what they are trying to achieve with this album (the first of a proposed trilogy, no less). They are master-minded by one A.K., a Frenchman who has done time in a number of underground black metal acts including Vorkreist and Merrimack. Inhibition is an album that certainly aims high and sporadically hits its target.
Inhibition starts with ‘Ou Se Trouvent La Mort’ (literally ‘or are killed’) all jangling guitars and atmospheric noises that evoke various depressive black metal bands including Burzum. French spoken word drawls listlessly over the top. My French is nowhere near good enough to decipher what is going on, but the overall effect is strong. After this short introduction, the album proper kicks in with drums and distorted guitar riffs. ‘The End of a Sub-Elitist Addiction’ sets the template for what will follow, the song meandering seamlessly between hypnotic depressing black metal riffs, eerie soundscapes and pounding rhythmic sections (predictably evoking Neurosis comparisons) with electronic elements creeping in from time to time. This effectively showcases the full range of techniques that will be used over the course of the album.
‘Art or cancer’ takes a more traditional black metal approach whilst retaining the unconventional song structures. Tempo changes and electronic elements are deftly inserted into the music in different sections, but there is a stronger focus on the black metal element of their sound. ‘The Other Rat’ follows in the same vein (albeit with more memorable riffs), while ‘Mother and Whore’ allows the electronic elements to creep back into the foreground, and also sees the return of the spoken word sections (this time with a female voice). It’s a long, sprawling track that somehow contrives to feel oppressive, despite the relatively spartan arrangements.
If the album ended there, I’d have no qualms at all about recommending it – but there are another three tracks which follow, and I found at this point that the album began to drag. ‘Static Involution’ pulls in some symphonic influences which mixes the sound up somewhat; but the track quickly shifts back to the pattern of changing tempos and trading off between melancholy riffs and rhythmic sections. It’s a good track, but my attention had generally begun to waver by this stage. The closing tracks are also perfectly good, but there’s a definite sense as the album approaches the hour mark that the ideas, good though they are, have been stretched a little thin. There’s also an issue with the songs beginning to blur together, Decline of the I have any number of good riffs but relatively few genuinely great ones.
That said, I found a great deal to like in this release, and if moody, depressing post-black metal with a gallic twist sounds interesting to you then I should recommend Decline of the I despite my modest reservations. If they are able to tighten up their songwriting and exercise a little more self-discipline on future recordings, this may be a band to watch.
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