Written by Kirk
Inherus – Beholden
> Post-doom/psychedelic rock
> New York, US
> Released May 26
> Hypnotic Dirge Records
It’s been almost a year since Hypnotic Dirge Records has given us any new music, having closed up their original base of operations in Canada last Summer and moved everything to Portugal. After some unfortunate logistical snafus, the gates to the kingdom have reopened, and a flood of new releases are already lined up. Last month saw the release of the sophomore album from death/doom titans Orphans of Dusk (their first in 8 years!), and now we also have the debut album from post-doom newcomers Inherus. Fusing death/doom with post-metal and elements of neo-psychedelia, what we end up with is an album overflowing with riffs that take on a life of their own—that grow and swell like a pair of lungs—and they will absolutely haunt you.
And this should come as no surprise when you realize who is behind the music. Anthony DiBlasi (of sludge/doom band Witchkiss) on bass and vocals; Beth Gladding (of post-black metal band Lotus Thief, blackened ambient doom band Forlesen, and formerly of experimental black metal band Botanist) on vocals, guitar, synths, and mandolin; Brian Harrigan (of atmospheric sludge band Swallow the Ocean) on vocals, guitar, and synths; and Andrew Vogt (of Lotus Thief and Swallow the Ocean) on drums. This is an incredibly diverse and eclectic group of musicians bringing a wide range of influences to the table, and what we get is an exceptionally fresh take on psychedelic doom metal. Relying less on the typically heavy reverb of traditional doom, Beth and Brian draw heavily from post-metal to add weight to their riffs without running the risk of their amps breaking down from all the feedback.
Now, I’m no expert in any of the multitudes of “post-” subgenres that are out there, and I’ve only recently been developing an appreciation and understanding for post-doom thanks to bands like Clouds Taste Satanic. But, like all “post-” subgenres, there are going to be liberties taken with the rules; we are exploring new territory and harvesting newly-seeded fields. Inherus rely heavily on creating atmosphere, which is something they do amazingly well. There is a certain cinematic quality to this record that makes it both infectious and soothing, almost like wrapping yourself in a soft, warm blanket while sipping from a steaming hot cup of coffee on a cold winter morning. It’s heavy without being overly melancholic, which is unusual to find within the hallowed chambers of doom metal.
The album opens with “Forgotten Kingdom”, a song as brutally punishing as the bloodcurdling cry that kicks things off. At least as heavy as the nastiest song in Paradise Lost’s arsenal, the first 3:30 of this song will have you wondering if your speakers are going to survive. Then Beth takes over on lead vocals, and the vibe shifts from brutal to contemplative. Anthony’s bass work here is immaculate, and Andrew’s drumming is outstanding; like the current of a riptide, the song keeps pulling you under every time you try to reach the surface for a breath of fresh air. And get that breath of fresh air we do with “One More Fire”, a seismic shift in every way imaginable. Post-rock guitars draped over a king-sized bed of dreamy synths, at least for about four minutes until things shift back to post-metal, balancing the dreaminess with equal parts heaviness as the song slowly crescendos before fading into the ether.
Those dreamy post-metal vibes carry over to “The Dagger,” a song that manages to be both haunting and seductive with its pulsing, pounding rhythm. Things heat up on the next song, “Oh Brother,” as the tempo builds and the heaviness increases, the song again swelling and contracting as though alive. What follows is the dreamy instrumental track “Obliterates in the Face of Gods”, which serves as a bit of a palate cleanser before the closing track, “Lie to the Angels.” At a gargantuan thirteen minutes and sixteen seconds, this song is nothing if not the culmination of all the songs that have preceded. It perfectly combines every element already explored—heavy post-doom riffs, spacious post-metal dynamics, dreamy synths—into the perfect culmination of an hour’s worth of, at least for me, pure sonic bliss.
THE BOTTOM LINE
We are so often wont—and by “we” I mean metalheads—to compartmentalize the many fragments and pieces that make up heavy metal and keep them in their own separate containers. Too often we complain that something is not “trve” or “kvlt” enough because it doesn’t follow some completely arbitrary set of rules that no one can actually truly define. These lines in the sand aren’t real and don’t actually mean anything, because music will do what it always has done and will continue to do: Change. Grow. Evolve. And that’s what we want, isn’t it? Yeah, sure, there will always be albums that speak to us, whether it’s because there’s a certain part of a song that you never get tired of or a particular memory that gets triggered when you hear it. But what makes music truly special is how it’s never stagnant. Inherus gets that, and that’s what makes Beholden such and incredible record. Don’t believe me? Listen to it yourself. I guarantee you this album will blow you away.