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[24th September, 2012]
[Agonia Records]

01. Où se trouve la mort?
02. The End of a Sub-Elitist Addiction
03. Art or Cancer?
04. The Other Rat
05. Mother and Whore
06. Static Involution
07. L’indécision d’être
08. Keeping the Structure

Though I’m uncertain at what point in time the band started off, Inhibition is Decline of the I’s debut full-length, and a notable performance as such. However, at a second glance, the group from Paris, France, contain a bunch of weathered musicians from their native (post) black metal scene, including from Vorkreist, Merrimack, Olc Sinnsir and Corpus Christii - all bands that set out in the early to late nineties. It’s no surprise then that Inhibition packs a mean punch.

The record kicks off with a horror-like Western intro theme, achieved through saloon piano in the background, and crackly French speech, resulting in an almost cinematic late 1800’s/early 1900’s setting. The historic background fades out after the intro, but the grim, black and white atmospheres remain throughout pretty much the rest of the record. If – and that’s a big fuckin’ ‘if’ – there’s any kind of color at all it’s that of dark red blood crusts. Though the album is well capable of inducing emotions, happiness for sure isn’t one of them.

Decline of the I play things slow, oftentimes almost sludgy. Eerily resonating guitars, steady no-nonsense drumming, and a layer of acidic screaming provide the musical basis. On top of that the band pull a bunch of tricks and stir through plenty of screams of damsels in distress and dudes in agony – as if being massacred with a blow torch. On the one hand, the slowness is a key component in shaping the band’s sound, but on the other this low tempo, combined with the tracks’ long duration – the average length is around seven minutes and a half – can make listening to the full album a patience-stretching affair. Still, the record provides for a collection of unique audio experiences, rather than a string of headbangable songs – a feat that will sit better with those metalheads inclined towards focused listening.

Inhibition is characterized by a clear and sharp production, so the band definitely scores points here. Conventional black metal elitists – unconventional ones too perhaps – might badge this ‘untr00’, but the simple fact is that it warrants longer-term musical enjoyment. Nothing is more frustrating than having a piece of great music succumb to the terror of straight-to-tape production. Yes, that’s a personal prerogative, but you know it’s true.

In addition to sharp mixing, the band have employed the computer for other bits as well. Minor techno elements – beats and FX – are used on occasion, but don’t seem to add much to a musical point being made, much due to their mere moderate employment. They do, however, add a tiny bit towards making the band stand out from peers, though purists may not approve.

The issue with Inhibition isn’t that though. Rather, where Decline of the I are perfectly capable of building up frightening or even hope-depriving atmospheres, they pretty much get bogged down there. On balance, most tracks fail to actually be more than that. They fail to be songs, let alone memorable ones. The question is if fans of the genre will give a shit. In the realm of French (post-)black metal it seems mandatory to sound extra freaky and with their weird-ass effects combined with a slow and scary delivery, Decline of the I has definitely caught on.