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Inborn Suffering : Regression To Nothingness

Inborn Suffering have concentrated on delivering a core of harder-edged music.

One of the occupational hazards for a band going anywhere near the Melodic/Gothic end of Death/Doom, is that there will be almost inevitable review comments as to which of the Peaceville Three they most sound like. That, along with being written off as a bit like early Katatonia, or Draconian – depending on whether there are female vocals involved or not – has to be quite a depressing experience.

In what may well be a fairly effective double-bluff, French Doom-Death outfit Inborn Suffering throw down the gauntlet by quoting 'Sounds Like: Anathema - Paradise Lost - My Dying Bride - Mourning Beloveth ...' on their homepage – and then cunningly go on to not sound all that much like any of them. Instead - and perhaps unsurprisingly, given a line-up that includes members of both bands – it's mostly a full-tilt collision between the Melodic atmosphere of Ningizzia and the more crushing Death brutality of Mourning Dawn. And, well, okay – perhaps it is superficially just a little bit MDB-meets-Draconian-without-the-girl-ish in places.

As a follow-up to the well-received debut 'Wordless Hope', ' Regression To Nothingness' strips out some of the softer, mood-setting elements and concentrates on delivering a core of harder-edged music. Not that it is without subtleties or slower moments – there's still a dedicated keyboard player, for example – but it eschews the additional furnishings of piano, violin and female vocals found in earlier work. Nor does it lack a sense of identity, possessing two quite distinctive lead characteristics in the sharp, soaring guitar of Stephane Peudupin and the tormented, emotional vocals of Laurent Chaulet. These are ably supported by drums, bass, rhythm guitar and keys, generating a densely-packed background that alternates between slow-building grandeur and driving pace.

The whole package is presented with Solitude's customary attention to production detail and sound quality: unfortunately, as a review download, lacking any of the printed material other than the planet- (or possibly moon-) exploding cover image. It all sounds pretty good so far. It is pretty good so far. It almost feels churlish to ask why, therefore, it seems a little bit flat and disappointing by the time it's finished playing: churlish, but necessary.

It starts off well enough, with the insistent urgency of 'Slumber Asylum', mixing clean-spoken parts with inhumanly tortured screams that fans of Mourning Dawn will recognise immediately. 'Born Guilty' carries on apace, with a strong keyboard voice adding moody textures behind the rattling drumbeats and bold riffing that lead into an evocative, spacy instrumental section. As does 'Grey Eden', minus the instrumental finale, and 'Apotheosis', but with the addition of a particularly stirring and soaring guitar motif. 'Another World' breaks the mould somewhat, being a compact and gruff 6-minute piece with a stomping beat to it. Then there's 'Regression To Nothingness' itself, and the closer 'Self Contempt Kings' and...

...that's the answer, really. Taken individually, each track is a good one, with drive and atmosphere, some excellent musicianship and, when fully unleashed, those utterly splendid vocals. But then put any two tracks back to back – and at an average runtime of 10 minutes plus each, that's not an inconsiderable amount of music – and that's largely encapsulated the whole range of the album. Play all 72-odd minutes in one hit and there simply isn't enough differentiation between them: the urgency and underlying emotion become almost de rigueur, against which a diminishing amount of the detail actually stands out. In a way, it's crying out for a return of the very diversions that have been lost since the debut – paradoxically, even including a bad track somewhere in the middle would have improved the album, by allowing the remainder to shine by comparison as well as in isolation.

That may seem like a strange conclusion to reach, but it is quite perplexing to be presented with what is effectively a faultless, majestic style spread across seven good-to-excellent tracks and still not be able to unequivocally praise the resulting album. Had it been released as 3 separate EPs, it would be brilliant: taken in one solid slab, it ends up being just the wrong side of fully-digestible. Still recommended, but the use of selective playlists and/or the stop button is advised.

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Slumber Asylum
2. Born Guilty
3. Grey Eden
4. Apotheosis
5. Another World
6. Regression To Nothingness
7. Self Contempt Kings

Duration : Approx. 72 minutes

Visit the Inborn Suffering bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-08-03 by Mike Liassides
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