Catalepsia – Inheritance [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

2020 felt like a year in which a lot of quality albums escaped our reviewing grasp. In some cases we simply didn’t get promo and in others we just missed the boat altogether because we’re fallible human beings.1 Count Inheritance, the sophomore album from Latvia’s Catalepsia, in the former category, and it was our loss for not getting our hands on this freaky beast way back in January. This interesting act straddles several genre lines to deliver strange Gothic-tinged doom death compositions running anywhere from 8 to 18 minutes, and they generally manage to keep things intriguingly offbeat along the way.

Upon stumbling into this mammoth work (it runs a daunting 77 minutes), I was reminded of The Eternal’s Waiting for the Endless Dawn. Not so much in sound but in overall mood and how they stretch out songs while maintaining engagement. There’s certainly no effort made to rush the material’s development and each selection takes its sweet time getting wherever it was intended to go. As the songs plod through death, doom, Gothic and post-metal soundscapes, you’ll hear traces of Novembers Doom, Paradise Lost, and Draconian along with Moonspell-style quirks and kinks. Despite the laborious track lengths, there’s something at work here that makes you want to drill down and make sense of it all. Take opener “Transference” for example. At 8:21 it’s one of the most svelte compositions and this one actually does bear similarities to the moody Goth-doom of The Eternal. Sad, sparse piano notes plink, sullen strings sigh, and keyboard effects whoosh in the background. Heavier doom riffs eventually take precedence and Gothy cleans sound appropriately forlorn. Harsh vocals don’t show up until five minutes in, and when it’s over you realize you spent nearly the whole runtime waiting to get clubbed by a blunt object that never materialized. Followup “Incarnation” brings that missing ugly stick to the party early with a Novembers Doom homage that feels all the more powerful because of the blue balls build up you just endured. Neat trick that.

“Oppression” is the most “direct” cut, sounding like Icon era Paradise Lost with post-metal propensities. On the other extreme is the 18-plus minute closer “Being” which takes seven minutes to lurch into something resembling forward momentum, and another two before you’re forced to accept that the aforementioned forward movement is still slow enough to grow moss. And what payoff do you get for your time? Some may argue there isn’t really a traditional payoff at the end of the rainbow, just more odd ebb and flow of atmosphere. Is it too long? Yes. Will everyone appreciate the stoned glacier pace? Definitely not! Yet there’s something about it that resonates in an uncanny way that’s hard to describe. Honestly, I don’t even want to like it, but part of me does out of misdirected spite.

Sparse and only infrequently heavy, with droning, quasi-ambient interludes peppering the slo-mo road show, Inheritance is far from a perfect album. You need to be in the right headspace to appreciate it and the whole thing needs be heard to get the full effect. Guaranteed to reward the patient and exasperate the antsy. What side of the coin do you fall on?

Tracks to Check Out: “Incarnation,” “Oppression,” and “Becoming.”

Show 1 footnote

  1. This mostly means others missed crucial stuff and were placed on the AMG Naughty List for said malfeasance.
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