Genres are fickle beasts. We crave proper tools for identification and organization, and more often than not, things fall neatly into place. However, when a piece of media aligns itself too comfortably with a single set of established confines, it’s taken as generic and derivative. We’re all guilty of it. What’s worse is that this encourages a culture in our community in which we put too much faith in categorization as a means of fandom. We as music fans often find ourselves making entire genres a part of who we are as individuals. A single genre of music — with its own set of rules, sounds, fashion, and aesthetic — can inform our entire being.
This isn’t meant to be some grand think-piece on genre and culture, nor am I decrying the importance of classification; it’s absolutely necessary and culture will always be influenced by art (and vice-versa, of course). That’s just how things are. So what do we do when a band doesn’t neatly fall into one box? Best case scenario is cognitive dissonance and settling for what could be an inappropriate tag, or perhaps worse, the clumsy and speculative creation of new words in the hopes that something sticks.
Case in point: Boston three-piece InAeona have been teased in the press as a promising new force in post-rock and post-metal. Teasers featuring massive, fuzzy chords and hints towards atmospheric depth helped to sell the idea. But in reality, the group’s debut album Force Rise The Sun is more aligned with the early-to-mid 2000’s alt-metal and post-grunge scene than anything approaching the music of Isis or Neurosis. InAeona conjure fleeting effigies of bands such as Deftones, Tool, Breaking Benjamin, Static-X, and mid/late-era Korn (think Untouchables and beyond), and fortunately they manage do so with verve and surety. The tracks on Force Rise The Sun hover around five minutes in length and stick to a verse/chorus pop structure, but the staggering grooves and haunting melodies sink their hooks deep. This isn’t to discredit the group; by all means, there’s a way to do the style in a way that is artistically fulfilling, meaningful, and relevant to the contemporary metal scene. InAeona accomplish this spectacularly.
Even still, taking Force Rise The Sun as a nu-metal record would be just as guilty a miscategorization. The melodies, riffs, structures, and industrial qualities are absolutely informed by the era — chalk it up to growing up in that environment — but it’s also not a stretch to envision InAeona sitting comfortably alongside similarly influenced yet forward thinking acts such as Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus. Finding an apt catch-all descriptor of the band’s sound may be an impossibility, which only speaks of the band’s craft.
One of the few elements that does lend the band some credence to the post-metal sound is the unconventionally thick and muddled production. In another context, guitars, synths, and basses blurring into eachother might be the death knell of a record hoping to draw in crowds, but Force Rise The Sun sounds absolutely massive and would surely lose its edge if it weren’t presented as a massive wall of sound. The production and sonic quality of this record is what sells InAeona as a cosmic-minded act. Further, the pop structures dissolve towards the album’s end, where the band opens up their palette to allow sweeping atmospheres and a climactic grand finale. From this perspective, InAeona may also find themselves as worthy contemporaries to labelmates Junius.
InAeona are a rare breed in that to trace their musical lineage through the years will yield about a dozen formative acts, but they are their own being. No active band sounds exactly like InAeona. That could very well change in the near future considering the album’s potential success, but having a unique sound is likely the most valuable asset any band can have. It also helps that InAeona have the songwriting capabilities and musicianship to back up the aesthetic.