Review from Angry Metal Guy

Posted by Hypnotic Dirge Records on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 Under: English
From: Angry Metal Guy
Published: May 24, 2023

You know that scene in The Last of Us where we first meet the clickers, which can’t see but are attracted to the slightest sound? This is how I regard my fellow AMG scribes, as sightless fungi that I must not alert to the tastiest morsels in the sump until that point in time when AMG Promo Pit Rules allow me to make a breakneck sprint for the album I’ve been eyeing up. Until then, I have to stay absolutely silent. So it was that for almost a month after (the apparently, and happily, rejuvenated) Hypnotic Dirge Records alerted me to the existence and impending release of Beholden, the debut by Inherus, I managed to not let out even the slightest squee of excitement. Why was I so keen to ensure that the clickers infesting AMG Towers did not discover Inherus until I could claim it for my own? Well, it is a project featuring members of Lotus Thief, Swallow the Ocean and, crucially, my beloved Forlesen.1 Was it worth the trouble?

New York-based quartet Inherus specializes in blackened, progressive doom, with nods to hard rock. As the record opens on “Forgotten Kingdom,” you’d be forgiven for briefly thinking you hit play on some groove-laden stoner doom (the cover art does not lessen this impression). However, this doesn’t last long and, across the hour-long run of Beholden, the band takes in an array of styles. By the time we hit closer, “Lie to the Angels,” we are into Tool territory, with pulsing, syncopated drum rhythms (Andrew Vogt) and thudding, almost percussive guitars. The most interesting cuts, however, lie between these two poles. Throughout, the guitars, handled by Beth Gladding (known as Bezaelith, when operating with Forlesen, ex-The Lotus Thief and Botanist) and Brian Harrigan (Swallow the Ocean), offer up big meaty chords, atop which dance shimmering melodies, set to Anthony DiBlasi’s (Witchkiss) thunderous bass. The further we venture into Inherus’ creation, the more progressive some of the string work becomes (the middle passages of “The Dagger” are outright prog).

Gladding, DiBlasi and Harrigan also collaborate on mic duties, with Gladding’s clean vocals the star, as she ranges from husky, mesmeric chants (“Forgotten Kingdom”), to soaring laments (“One More Fire”) and crooning dirges (“Oh Brother”). Indeed, there’s something of The Otolith’s Sarah Pendleton in her vocals. However, Harrigan and DiBlasi’s work on harsh vox, while less striking than Gladding’s, is absolutely integral to Beholden. Interplay between the clean and harsh vocals, is hardly a new concept but Inherus absolutely nail it. Get “One More Fire” on and skip to the four-minute mark, as the patient, contemplative rock reaches its zenith and an insistent guitar lead drops accompanied by a snarling roar, over which Gladding’s voice takes flight. Goosebumps every time. Similarly, Inherus take their time to build up the atmosphere on “Oh Brother” before reaching critical mass, as mournful, distant guitar leads and howled vocals border on atmoblack, then suddenly giving way to a very headbangable chugging riff and little triplets on the drums.

The components that make up Beholden are more straightforward than the members of Inherus’ other projects. In common with both Forlesen and Lotus Thief, however, the band has the patience and confidence in its songwriting to carefully build up layers of sound, and allow tracks to breathe and develop organically. Mostly this works but, in a few places, that confidence is misplaced. In fact, you could happily lose the first four minutes of the otherwise-excellent “One More Fire,” the first two and a half minutes of the very good “Oh Brother” and the entirety of pointless two-minute synth interlude “Obliterated in the Face of Gods”, and Beholden would feel much more immediate, and be the better for it. Mastered by Alan Duches (whose credits include Fleetwood Mac and Monster Magnet), Beholden sounds damn fine though. The guitars and bass sound huge, with the vocals perfectly balanced and clear, without overpowering or being overpowered.

Beholden is a curious beast. With the exception of “Obliterated in the Face of Gods”, everything on this record is good, with some of the highs reaching the ionosphere.  And yet, Inherus has allowed itself slightly too much leash in places, letting parts of the record meander aimlessly. We’re not talking much but, with a little more discipline in the songwriting department, this could have been a great record. Instead, it’s a very good one, with some absolutely stellar moments and I’m not going to complain about that.

Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed by: Carcharodon

In : English 

Tags: "inherus" "inherus beholden" "inherus metal" "forlesen" "lotus thief" 

 Released: May 26, 2023
Genre: Doom Metal