Straight up, as well as not being an expert in music genre discussion, I’m not anything close to a deathcore aficionado. Please take this as disclaimer and excuse if this review experience of Inhibitor‘s Abhorrence EP offends your sensitivities. Added to these handicaps, I’m also coming in completely blind to the Melbourne band, with no existing impressions or ideas to lean upon. Given that Abhorrence is the debut EP for the collective of Jesse Burr (vocals), Samuel Celli-Bird (guitar), Daniel McBride (guitar), Declan Hain (bass), and Michael Hodgson (drums), I think I can give myself a pass for uneducated freshness. Right? Right?
Inhibitor released “Loathing” as a single in April, and it seems fitting to start with it as the opening track of Abhorrence. I take it in as I’m sitting amongst my cats on my bed, and from its introduction, the track falls like a chilling rain before a core rattling crash. My cats would probably be disturbed by the darkly beckoning track that’s unfolding in my earholes, if not for my headphones.
“Loathing”‘s lyrics read like a conjuring but with a literary charm. The intriguing line “Something evil this way spews forth with purpose” reminds me of a line from some book or poem that I’ve read at some point in my life, but I can’t think about that now – “Loathing” is demanding attention. Unrelenting drumming and brutal vocals describe willing and vulnerable “mindless sheep” seeming to line up to whatever beastly authority figure is revealing itself.
I’d intended to sit back and listen to Abhorrence in its entirety, but “Loathing” proved far more gripping than that casual approach. Building but with a promise to inevitably collapse, the guitar-driven free fall into “Die alone” is a captivating (I said “Fuck yes!” out loud when I first heard it) stream that pulls the listener into a rocky run through rapids.
Turbulent and throttling, “Loathing” continues to beat the listener about their head, frustrated with blind obedience and self-sacrifice to faulty gods. The sentiment sits distastefully in the mouth, while a heartfire burns to flame. A statically serated breakdown marks a point of decision with a focused pressure akin to “Are you in or are you out?”.
For what is my first moment of my first foray into Inhibitor, I’m impressed by the central point they’ve given the story; describing what seems like a surrender to apathy in the face of willful ignorance. The song ends with a pulse quickening return to whence we began and violent rain.
Moving on, I relistened many times to the tumbling false start of “Berserker” before its start in earnest with a simple yet effective cymbal ‘ting’. Tightly wound and gravelly, “Berserker” sandpapers with pace and verve. With intriguing riffs and drawing vocal rhythms, the song speaks like observations of life, with a crystal ball-esque eye to the future.
Having crafted dangerous heights, there’s a monotone teetering on the idea of deceptive faith and its damage, and I have to wonder whether the song thematically ties in to the one before it, given the reference to obedience. With zig-zagged fustration in not being able to get through to people, the song lands in a punctuated stop, where a jaw-dropping bass note (I paused and shout-whispered “Oh my GOD!”) and clarity of drum tone highlights how stunning the production is on this (produced and mixed by Jamie Marinos, and mastered by Lance Prenc). Circling back around to where we began, it’s hard to find fault with “Berserker”, all the way through to its breakdown of an ending.
Third track, “Death”, is eerie as fuck, to put it bluntly. This is courtesy of whispery and unsettling sounds that form static edges and carry a cold chill of a promise that something is coming. The ‘something’ is riffs that dart like shifty eyes and blunt vocal commiserations of the earth-destroying lives we lead. It’s a perfect transition from “Look at the emissions we bleed” to an instrumental bleed that seeps slowly downward, seeming to portray an inevitable death. Drums corrode and grate in this bleak view of the world, and yet again a surprise appearance from the bass is wowingly welcome.
Seeming to pick up pace, “Death” is instead an unpredictable landscape laid bare, keenly described by violent metaphors, and slower moments like suffocating black tar juxtaposed with unrelenting machine-like drive. With a captivating riff shift that does its best to rise to the surface, “Death” captures distrust and constant leeching. It’s an unholy mess, for multiple reasons, fittingly captured in interlayed instrumentation. I’m intrigued by this song’s chaos that carries bounce along with it and also ties up so neatly at its end.
Seeming to continue the same theme of environmental concern as the track before it “Catalyst” is grand and stomping, featuring menacing riffage in a more condensed space. With darting metaphorical eyes and distasteful vocal oozing, “Catalyst” vibes like a diving surrender into the end of life as we know it.
Lifts in intensity match the destructive natures that have us “Drill towards the dying heart” and recklessly blanket the earth with pollution. Getting satisfyingly darker and more angular, the choking of our planet has reached a point of no return – marked by a breakdown – and Inhibitor seem to present the “Mistress of life” like a person who has endured abuse and has been left to die. The experience is moving courtesy of sweeping instrumentation coupled with blast beats and an urgent vocal call for ‘her’ to “Hurry up and die”. The cyclic return to where we’ve been before (can I call it a chorus, purists?) is firmly punctuated by a sudden full stop – and silence – at the song’s end.
Final track, “Dread”, is huge from the start courtesy of the mountainous terrain painted by unrelenting drums and widely spanning riffage. “It’s something that we can’t ignore” is a spark of electricity set to wake the sleeping into awareness, as is the rapidly punched rhythm which sees us hear of innate obedience of forces unseen.
With lyrics reading more like an activist’s speech than something darkly poetic, the listener is thrust into Inhibitor’s perception of manipulation by media and public figures. Weakened, numbed, and mined for our value, the pressuresome song aptly expresses the tired weight that we’re placed under.
When the mountainous terrain returns, i’ts initially menacing before opening into a guitar-focused point that does an excellent job of painting how twisted it all is. Referred to as “the human game”, “Dread” seems to be more drawing as it goes on, especially in the Mark Poida vocal feature section. The listener would be forgiven for feeling like they’re going crazy as they follow this song’s thread, where djent monotony holds hands and skips with a more colourful guitar melody in all of its echoing eeriness. A repetition of “Break the cycle” acts like a sledgehammer to concrete with unrelenting effort, with a crawling climb to a toxic climb ending the song as well as the EP.
In reflection, Abhorrence was far more appealing to me than I’d expected it would be. The quality of production and the tight musicianship further enhanced the meaningful themes that Inhibitor were sharing, specifically to do with our world, the orchestrations of power in it, and the environmental abuse that we’re complicit to.
Though my interest was held throughout, I feel like Abhorrence would require many repeat visits to form memorability with specific tracks, especially since I didn’t immediately connect meaning with the song titles to the themes that the lyrics spoke about. I also suspect that there’s a meaningful thread that connects all of these songs (is it merely a capture of what they abhor?), but it wasn’t clear to me by way of the EP’s tracklisting, nor why certain themes showed up in more than one song.
As debut releases go, Abhorrence is a strong one, and I feel like what we hear is barely the tip of the iceberg as to what the band are capable of in terms of sound, ideas, inspirations. Inhibitor are absolutely a band to watch.
Song memorability would take patience and repeat listens. With songs of similar subject matter, I feel like it needs to be clear as to how they differentiate from each other.
Incredible quality of sound and tight instrumentation. This feels like just a sampler for a highly capable band.