Decline of the I - InhibitionThis year has seen the French black metal scene continue to impress with strong releases from established artist such as Alcest, Blut Aus Nord and Merrimack in particular standing out. But it’s not just the old guard who get to fly the flag for Gallic grimness, as Decline of the I, the solo project of scene veteran A.K. have just released their debut album “Inhibition”, which should cause fans of the aforementioned bands to sit up and take notice.

The first step in a trilogy of releases inspired by the works of biologist Henri Laborit, Decline of the I dabble in the kind of hazy, rushing post-black metal that’s all the rage these days, but employ a wide range of other influences from industrial to shoegaze to ensure they stand out in a scene that’s vastly becoming overpopulated. First track proper ‘The End of a Sub-Elitist Addiction’ demonstrates a strong appreciation for eccentric supergroup with its shifting riffs, repeated lapses into quiet introspection and multi-faceted use of repetitive melodies ensuring that the track remains interesting over its ten minute length.

‘Art or Cancer’ seems to enjoy toying with your expectations, with its juxtaposition of surging post-black metal guitar work and depressive plodding soundscapes, with the added deployment of eerie croaking electronic effects doing little to settle the nerves. Things get even more disturbing with the blackened psychedelia, oppressive drum time signatures and seemingly random drops in volume that characterise ‘The Other Rat’ while the first half of ‘Mother and Whore’ lulls you into a false sense of security with its spoken word ramblings and skittish electronics before returning to more familiar doom-laden territory.

The lurching, futuristic effects and bleak mid-paced riffs of ‘Static Involution’ continues building the themes of dread and desperation that A.K. seems to revel in painting, before closing track ‘Keeping the Structure’ brings the militarised industrial vibes to the forefront for a menacing march off into whatever distance its creator wants to explore next.

It’s hard to believe that almost an hour has elapsed, but that’s testament to the skill and plethora of ideas driving A.K. His varied vocal repertoire mimics the ever changing music, switching from tortured snarls to distressed spoken word passages effortlessly while his ability to wander far from, yet instantly drop back into the heart of a song is intimidating. It’ll be interesting to see how well the second part of the trilogy fares but for those who crave post-black metal that actually merits the tag; “Inhibition” is a sumptuous first course.

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