Review Summary: The apex of technical thrash metal.
By Inheritance avoids every stumbling block of its peers to become pretty much the best technical thrash album ever released.
, the vocals are a seriously good contribution to the music, with Flemming Ronsdorf's signature mixture between operatic cleans and razor-edged snarl pretty much perfectly complementing the melodic thrash of the instrumentation. The guitar work is out of this world, with speedy tremolo picked segments feeling especially abrasive whilst melodic leads and licks always provide effective resolution, such as in Life in Bondage
. Largely the most aggressive track on the album, the band manage to squeeze hooky leads and harmonies in at the perfect intervals. In addition, the technicality of the music is more evident in the rhythm than in other tech-thrash albums, with more intricate picking patterns and some interesting shifting time signatures, such as in the breaks of Equal at First
. Production wise, the album is very solid, with a fairly low-gain guitar tone lending some organic sharpness to the tone and the bass carrying most of the distortion, allowing for maximum clarity in the busy guitar work whilst maintaining a lot of weight.
Despite a heavy reliance on harmonic minor leads, By Inheritance manages to sound very varied overall, in part due to its structure. The opening pair of full tracks are probably the most epic on the album, with the legendary Khomaniac
's rapid changes between parts and long instrumental intro leading to it feeling fully realized. Beneath the Clay
is somewhat faster but hits the same notes, with similarly melodic verses but a darker feel and a better chorus. The title track manages to shift the tone very well to something more lighthearted, whilst Bombfood
's classic thrash-ballad style manages to set the necessary variation of pace and tone for the fast Life in Bondage. Best of all is the album's closer, Back in the Trash
, with some mean groovy riffs and one of the best choruses on the album, along with probably the most varied rhythms and tempos.
With its stronger production values, tight and varied songwriting, and wonderfully intricate guitar work, By Inheritance manages to outperform pretty much every other technical thrash album. Where something like Never, Neverland might resort to some corny tropes or Control and Resistance might distract with weak vocals, By Inheritance hits with satisfying and perfect consistency, cementing itself as one of the best metal albums of the extremely stacked year of 1990.