Review Summary: A highly accessible death/doom album that, although suffers from self-sabotage, is a very enjoyable listen.
Inborn Suffering know who they are; it’s the first thing they tell us on their debut album, Wordless Hope
. Whether or not this is an attempt to try and defend an album which unfortunately falls into clichés is uncertain, but what we can be certain about is that Wordless Hope
manages to be an excellent doom album, all while displaying its influences proudly on its sleeve. A number of words can be used in describing the album; take your pick from ‘predictable’, ‘generic’, ‘the naked child of its influences’. Nevertheless, all of these labels contribute to one thing which helps Inborn Suffering hold onto their reputation; accessibility
. It’s no surprise that doom metal can be very hard to listen to. Taking into account almost every funeral doom metal band, and a large number of other doom bands, it’s hardly a popular sub-genre. Thankfully, there are bands like Inborn Suffering who drawn a fine line between accessibility and mediocrity, delivering a good dose of doom metal that is both listenable and appealing. It is in this respect that Wordless Hope
is a complete success. There are unfortunate instances where it falters, but Inborn Suffering show that they not only have what it takes to make an impression with their music, but that they’re confident in who they are and how they play.
Opener ‘This Is Who We Are’ is the longest track on the album, and contrary to its length, is an excellent beginning, smoothly easing in Inborn Suffering’s style of music. Smooth is perhaps a very fitting word to use when describing Wordless Hope
. Each melody, the vocal delivery, and the heavier blast beat driven sections are remarkably well connected, the different parts of the songs and the songs themselves flowing well into each other. Although the band is very predictable, there is still a mood of innovation throughout the album. Take for example the guitar solo in ‘This Is Who We Are’; one would think such a solo in such a song would be inappropriate, but Inborn Suffering pull it off, rather well if I might add. Another more consistent example is the drumming. Doom is not known for its drumming, nor is any sort of extraordinary drumming expected; Inborn Suffering have no regard for this expectation, giving possibly one the best drum performances in a doom album. Even while the guitarists are taking a break, slowing down the riffs and flicking their hair behind their heads, drummer Thomas Rugolino is working non-stop, not only making the drumming sound really good, but varying it so that it adds a whole new layer of depth to each song. The blast beats used are also of significance, making up the majority of Inborn Suffering’s brunt; the use of blast beats in tracks like ‘Inborn Suffering’ and ‘Stygian Darkness’ is exemplary.
The album needs no more praise in respect to its instrumental content, and this brings us to the vocals, in which you can find some of the best and some of the worst parts of the albums. The gutturals are sublime; thick and throaty with a dense flow that sits extraordinarily well with the atmosphere. This is by no means all that is offered to us, vocalist Laurent varying his gutturals up and down, sometimes even coming close to a black metal screech as can be seen in the epic final song, ‘Thorns of Deceit’. In spite of all this though, and definitely not in the album’s favour, certain sections comprise of semi-singing/spoken word. Perhaps this decision was made in order to give a more melodic feel to the album, but its effect was very much on the contrary, making parts of the album sound very lame. Whether it is lead vocalist Laurent or a back-up vocalist in one of the other members, he cannot sing, and his attempts at a strained, spoken word sound similar to Anders Friden’s more recent ‘clean vocal’ style; in other words, they’re terrible. It’s unfortunate that an album with such potential is brought it down by something as trivial as this. Whether or not it was an attempt to conform to any sort of death/doom ‘stereotype’ by having clean singing is a question raised, but regardless, it pulls the album down from the more acclaimed status it could’ve received.
Without a doubt, Wordless Hope
has its problems; all albums do. Perhaps it was because this album is so good that its faults hurt that much more; perhaps I just feel more sympathetic towards Inborn Suffering, simply because I like them so much, yet cannot like them past a certain point because of this debut’s errors. Nevertheless, this is a good doom album. It caters for those well acquainted with the genre, and is also an excellent album to become more familiar with the genre. In other words, if you’re interested in doom, you can’t go wrong with Wordless Hope
. One simply must take it with a grain of salt and enjoy what is offered, rather than focus on its shortcomings; either way, this will be a band to look out for in the future.