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The opera works here. - 71%

ConorFynes, January 14th, 2016

Inner Missing carry the sort of distinctive threads that they could be described pretty closely in few terms. That is often the risk with bands that take a high concept road with their musical elements. To which I'd say a fully operatic baritone certainly applies, at least when found in Inner Missing's genre of choice: Gothic doom metal with a notably progressive edge. In fairness, Inner Missing offer up a solid dose of gloom across the board with Defeat. The production is appropriately atmospheric. The sound is nicely well-developed, and there are times I was flat-out surprised by what they had in store. But the thing I'll ultimately take away from Defeat is the vocal performance of the frontman Sigmund. Having manned the helm of Inner Missing since their days under the name Odium, I don't think I could imagine the band sounding nearly as memorable without him.

I have noticed a penchant for sad melodies in colder parts of the world, so it makes sense that Inner Missing, fresh from Saint Petersburg, would be rife with them. Defeat is the fourth album of theirs in a relatively short amount of time, so it is clear they've nary let the creative embers diminish before moving onto their next project. I think this has been a good thing in their case; Inner Missing have earned an increasingly distinctive sense of identity; a relatively impressive feat in a style filled with sycophants of My Dying Bride.

The sombre, introspective tone on Defeat shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Even so, if death-doom was once a strong descriptor of the band's sound, it isn't anymore. Inner Missing are as true to their gloom as ever, but in finding their sound, it's brought them closer to Gothic territory than anything. The vocals are almost entirely clean, and there's too great a range to the tempo to justify the doom epithet. Inner Missing obviously aren't in a world of their own stylistically, but I was impressed from an early point that they could make me think twice about something as fundamental as genre.

Sigmund's vocal performance definitely explains why I might feel differently towards Defeat. Atop the melodic guitar gloom, his voice rumbles in a purely operatic way. Aside from some mandatory Gothic whisperings, there's little done to connect this vocal style with metal customs, and that is a great thing. Compared to the stars of the operatic world, Sigmund wouldn't actually live up to the best of them. His vibrato only really shines on the lowest notes, and his vocal range sounds purposefully limited to the lower end. But I think that's why his vocals work so well. They have all the pomp and arrogance of opera, but have the latent modesty to integrate into the rest of the music. Even so, it would have been nice to hear the full range of what the guy can do with his voice. As far as Defeat goes, it sounds like we only get a limited taste of what's probably a much broader spectrum.

Inner Missing's songwriting and instrumentation is a sight less distinctive than their frontman's brooding bellow, though that should not be seen as a slight against them. The musicianship is relatively professional, at least on par with a lot of the bands that influenced them. The composition of Defeat is perfectly solid for what it is. Songs tend to get locked into a gloomy groove that builds with intensity, sometimes middling along with the general sense that a song will end up in a simply louder place than where it began. This atmospheric bent has worked for bands in the past, and it does a solid job for Inner Missing too. Where I'm most surprised are the points on Defeat that transcend the gloom for something greater. The prog metal fireworks on "Febris" are a continual source of surprise to me, popping up at a point in the album where I was sure I had it figured out already.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.