INHEAVEN, The Bullingdon – Oxford 23/9/16
Oxford’s romance with shoegaze goes back two and a half decades with bands such as Ride instrumental in the genres rise to prominence. Although always somewhat on the peripheries of the scene, shoegazing, with its expansive use of reverb pedals and ethereal, dreamscape textures, can be found in much of modern guitar music, sitting lazily in the backdrop like a tethered and heavily sedated great dane. However more and more bands have begun to reinvent the genre in recent years and the gentle reemergence has given new ignition to the nineties movement. INHEAVEN are certainly a band of this ilk, washing their punchy, catchy chorus lines down with swathes of echo and delay.
Despite their admiral attempts to breathe new life into old tradition, there’s not a great deal of innovation or progression from INHEAVEN and as their set ambles through an ill thought out mix of predictable and uninspired cliches, there’s little to grasp onto apart from the occasional ‘big chorus’ which, although having anthemic qualities, is not really enough to raise more than a whimper of unsubstantiated enthusiasm. There are glimpses of a band which could blossom into a genuinely invigorating act, the soaring guitar parts being an all too rare treat, but INHEAVEN rush their music too much, going from a to b in far too much of a hurry and not allowing their compositions to build or have any atmospheric prowess.
Their neediness for the standard verse, chorus formula really holds their music back and, like a bad horror flick, the predictability of the music becomes somewhat tedious and monotonous. There’s also a weakness in the vocal lines, the band falling for the myth that if the singing is entrenched in heavy amounts of reverb and delay, the melody can be sung sloppily. In fact, the opposite is true and a precise ability to hit the right note is tantamount.
It’s an interesting time for the British music scene with so many bands trying to reinvent genres and long forgotten approaches but there’s often a naivety in doing so. Just because the aesthetics and style is vaguely co-ordinated with that of their predecessors, does not necessarily mean the band will create anything sentient. There’s a huge difference between rejuvenating and merely being a homage to, and all too often INHEAVEN fall into the latter category. INHEAVEN, like their name, are at present a wishy washy concept which, although sounding nice enough, immediately implodes under examination or scrutiny.