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Inhuman – Contra

by Matt Bozenda at 28 January 2021, 10:52 AM

Comment as you will on the flaky reputation of the average metalhead, but outside the realm of Outlaw Country, few genres can boast an old timer’s league quite like Heavy Metal. If alcohol and drugs didn’t slow them down, then aging… well, actually, aging might be the only thing wearing them down. But even so, with Ozzy’s generation going from stuck in the 70’s to living in their 70’s, the past two decades proved that rocking on for 40 years is not just a dream, it can be achieved.

Still risking the vertebrae in their necks after almost thirty years and hailing from the ever-healthy scene in South Portugal, INHUMAN returns with their first new music in over ten years and their first full-length album in over twenty (and just their third overall) with "Contra". Things have changed since 1998’s "Foreshadow", however, as the band seems to have further embraced their Metal side over the more ambient and gothy ANATHEMA style held by that album while also exploring a Progressive element that wasn’t previously absent, just less prominent.

INHUMAN has also taken up that style of play that creates a time-altering depth. Take track one, "Chaotic Nothing", which is a complete song by the time it’s halfway done, and the rest is simply gravy on the roast. "An Imperfect God" comes next and brings a Baroquish synth to bear another layer. "Na Morte, Um Augúrio", starts with a serious throwback to their Goth roots and the ensuing song doesn’t exactly leave them behind.

The synth turns to a spookier organ to back up "Maledictio", an otherwise very modern metal track with a satisfying bridge. Soaring woodwind and strings do the same job on "The Flames Of Secret Shame", before a somber piano introduces and stalks "N.F.D.A. ", the album’s longest song at just under six minutes.

Business picks up again on "Ravening", the album’s shortest but also arguably its catchiest tune, a hit in waiting, and a worthy entry for the 2020 late list. "Behind The Altar" takes their sound back home to how it was in the first portion, but "EntreSombras", beginning on almost an Industrial clip, brings the album up to date again. The outro, "Sacrodrama", has just enough of everything to leave the listener wondering how they lost track of the last forty-nine minutes.

And yet, with that much time to occupy, not one second ends up wasted on "Contra". Where some Prog and/or Goth bands mingling with Metal might add some gimmicks to shore up songs, INHUMAN didn’t add one superfluous piece. At first listen, the vocal style might sound a bit out of place, perhaps even more so when considering the band’s previous output, but that more or less evens out as the album continues, to the point of being complementary.

This is very much a quality piece of Metal from Portugal. Production buffs may find "Contra" to be technically impressive, Prog buffs may find it greatly complex, Goth buffs may find it speaking to them… so give it a listen and see what you happen to find.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Chaotic Nothing
2. An Imperfect God
3. Na Morte, Um Augúrio
4. Maledictio
5. The Flames Of Secret Shame
6. N.F.D.A.
7. Ravening
8. Behind The Altar
9. EntreSombras
10. Sacrodrama
Rogério Sequeira – Bass
José Vairinhos – Drums
João Pedro – Guitars
Diogo Simões – Keyboards
Pedro Garcia – Vocals
Record Label: Alma Mater Records


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