Beholden by InherusRelease date: May 26, 2023
Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records
What if Opeth were as post as they are prog? The influence of the pioneers of progressive death metal are clear on this first album from Inherus, but its inventive blend with post-metal make it more than worthwhile in its own right.
Five songs – excluding a short interlude – each close to ten minutes or even longer is an intimidating prospect. If your tolerance for repetition is low, this is not the album for you, but what do you expect from a post-metal band?! Beholden makes the most of its ideas by letting them simmer and it’s hard to think of passages that outstay their welcome.
For an album with a lot of progressive death metal DNA to it, it’s surprisingly not that heavy. When harsh vocals are used, they are usually more texture in support of the guitars than a primary focus.
‘Forgotten Kingdom’ and ‘Lie To The Angels’ lean most into Inherus’s death metal influences with more prominent harsh vocals. Both climax with powerful double bass driven death doom, but even here it’s more My Dying Bride than Bloodbath.
What makes Beholden work is momentum, rather than heaviness. The album is carried by the rhythm guitars, which are weighty but have a real rock sensibility along the lines of Baroness. There’s enough ornamentation and soloing to stop fatigue setting in, but the focus is the riff rather than shred.
Beth Gladding’s excellent clean vocals also deserve special mention. Rightfully given more prominence than the harsh vocals, they are a consistently warm and charismatic presence throughout the album.
Beholden is a strong debut that earns every minute of its songs’ extended runtimes. There isn’t the intensity of Cult of Luna or older Opeth, but instead of trying to compete in battles of heaviness Inherus have developed an expansive sound that will only gain in strength as they develop.