|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By: Thimios Krikos & Fotis Benardo|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Greece|
|Year Released: 2016||Artist Website: InnerWish|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: 90%|
There is melodic metal and there is power metal and there is traditional metal and there is symphonic metal and somewhere where these genres intersect there is InnerWish. Hailing from Athens and establishing itself as one of the more influential and creditable metal acts to make Greece its home, InnerWish has five full-length albums and one EP to its credit since its mid-nineties inception. The group cut its teeth on MCA Records, releasing its debut full length Waiting For The Dawn in 1998 and ‘split’ EP Realms Of The Night with countrymen Reflection three years later, only to afterwords sign with Label Limb Music for its 2004 sophomore effort Silent Faces and 2006 third album Inner Strength. A deal with Sweden’s Ulterium Records ensued, which led to the fourth and fifth full-length InnerWish offerings No Turning Back from 2010, and its latest work InnerWish released March of 2016.
The recent six-year hiatus between albums attributes to band turnover, with long term members Babis Alexandropoulos (lead vocals) and Terry Moros (drums) supplanted by George Eikosipentakis (lead vocals) and Fragiskos Samoilis (drums), respectively. With its new roster set, InnerWish proceeded to record a pair of cover songs in the Black Sabbath classic “Neon Knights” (appearing on the Metal Hammer Greece compilation Sabbath Cadabra) and renowned Warlord tune “Black Mass’ (for the Sons Of A Dream - A Tribute To The Majesty Of Warlord compilation released by Metal Breed Records). The group followed up by starting the songwriting process that culminated in the thirteen tracks that make up InnerWish, what many consider (this reviewer included) the best InnerWish album to date.
Whenever a band switches vocalists, potential resides for said group to alter if not change its sound altogether. Not so InnerWish, who stay true to the ‘melodic power metal’ leanings of past efforts while adjusting to the lower register flavorings of Eikosipentakis as opposed the higher end penchant to Alexandropoulos. Whereas Alexandropoulos reflected a darker and smoother almost Dio influenced vibe to his delivery, Eikosipentakis takes the grittier, rawer and earthier approach while periodically reaching for the upper end of things when need calls for it. Yes, Alexandropoulos might be big shoes to fill, but Eikosipentakis fills them with style and class in proving a perfect fit for the array of genres that InnerWish brings to the table.
The temptation might be to label InnerWish ‘melodic power metal’, and while that would not be entirely inaccurate, I find with repeat listen that its self-titled fifth album brings the multiplicity to also allow room for the traditional and symphonic side of things.
Power metal continues to play a lead role with InnerWish. This reveals itself in “Broken”, a spirited double bass driven mauler with an overriding epic milieu and catchy hooks to spare, and “My World On Fire”, taking the weightier heading from its galloping flair and anthem-like feel to its regal refrain. Former makes use of periodic angelic choir vocals, while pronounced vocal melodies lend a commercial touch to the latter.
Also with a power metal aspect is “Serenity”, a melding of the sublime and technical with its emphasis on burly mid-paced riffs and flattering symphonic keyboards that accent without unnecessarily dominating. I appreciate the understated catchiness that comes to the forefront in the process. “Zero Ground” also approaches power metal territory. The song opens to a stretch of keyboards and orchestration prior to taking off to an outburst of double bass, slowing at times for passages with a warm and inviting feel only to rebound back to its keyed up ways. Inherit to the pair is a slight (and very inviting) progressiveness.
Melodic metal also remains a mainstay with the group. Opener “Role The Dice” vindicates this, vying for albums heaviest during its bellicose verses but upholding a surprising accessibility in sleekly flowing through its infectious refrain. Good range exhibited by Eikosipentakis, who transitions from the purse and even to grit laden fortitude. “Needles In My Mind” challenges for albums best. The song opens its first minute to acoustic guitar that gives way to a deluge of galloping riffs, lighter with its highlighting keyboards and tight harmonies but also allowing for some commercial hard rock sentiments. Thimios Krikos and Manolis Tsigkos bestow to the two several stretches of robust lead guitar.
The InnerWish melodic metal penchant continues on “Sins Of The Past”. This one moves its duration to a basis of unwavering mid-paced momentum, with powering guitars playing an influential role and expansive chorus tying things together with its manifest feel. Likewise, “Through My Eyes” gives prominence to the melodic. Slighter heavier in terms of focus, the song maintains the mid-paced intent but with some slight AOR nuances interweaving with the guitar proclivities at hand.
Some of the albums finer moments occur when InnerWish steps outside the box, as it does when pursuing a traditional metal heading. “Modern Babylon” proves ruthless in this capacity. The song relishes in full on aggression, bludgeoning front to back as harrowing riffs (upholding the immovable verses) stand alongside thickset vocal melodies (for the every bit exuberant refrain). One cannot help but appreciate how Eikosipentakis lowers his register to the extent he reminds of Herbie Langhans (Sinbreed, ex Seventh Avenue).
“Machines Of Fear” shares the mid-paced classic metal heaviness. A more anthem-like approach reveals itself, with verses slightly reduced in capacity as wisps of keyboards accent and brawny chorus interwoven with ample doses of ominous backing vocals. Of note is how “Machines Of Fear” and “Modern Babylon” both hint of Diviner, which should not surprise in light of how guitarist Thimios Krikos also graces the Diviner line up.
InnerWish takes the creativity to the next level on the symphonic metal leanings to “Rain Of A Thousand Years” and “Tame The Seven Seas”. Inherit to the two is an affluence of choir like vocal melodies, which form a sublime union with the majestic keyboards and neo-classical elements that play every bit lead roles. In terms of comparison, “Rain Of A Thousand Years” represents the heavier and more upbeat of the two in yielding a near mesmerizing melody, while “Tame The Seven Seas” elegantly slows the tempo with stylish touches of piano and orchestration with a cinematic effect the upshot.
Also uniquely its own is “Cross The Line”, a basic but effective acoustic number in which guitars and vocalist form the unfeigned union.
Any album in which Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd handle mixing duties and Peter In De Betou mastering is going to succeed laudably in terms of production and InnerWish proves no exception. Likewise, cover art entices equally from the presence of the talented Felipe Machado Franco.
Lyrically, I might describe InnerWish as a ‘positive metal band’ with occasional references of faith in its prose. Consider “Rain Of A Thousand Years” in this capacity:
Pride – lost in the whirl of time
Souls – still linger in twilight
Altar of freedom filled with cries
Rain – of a thousand years of might
Wash – away our sins and crimes
Dissolve the haze from our eyes
Salvation – Redemption
Know thyself and rise
Salvation – Redemption
In addition to “Through My Eyes”:
Maybe I’m the one to take your hand
And walk you through this sombre path
That without restrain
You have to cross to calm
There’s a light, the one you’ll find
To comfort you and heal your scars
The road of change
Is vast but full of scars
Some of my favorite lyrics come off “Broken”:
I raise my hands
And pray for someone
To reanimate my life
And guide me at my last fight
I turn my eyes
Resist my demons
The mirror never lies
Myself I have to find
Castaway - From tidal dreams
I humble lie = Down on my knee
Likewise with “Serenity”:
It’s the yearn to revive
And return to light
Deception cannot veil my dream
I’ll be trialed but in time
I’ll find serenity
It’s the need to survive
To regain what was mine
And return where my heart doesn’t
Find shelter in time
I cannot help but feel InnerWish has hit its stride on its self-titled fifth album by imbuing its basis of melodic power metal with a strong concurrent of traditional and symphonic aspects. Quality to songwriting makes it work in that InnerWish features such a wide array of top notch tracks to choose from- “Needles In My Mind”, “Roll The Dice”, “Modern Babylon”, “Machines Of Fear”, “Rain Of A Thousand Years” and “Tame The Seven Seas” to name a few. Lone constructive comment is that the group could have trimmed the album by a track or two in light of its thirteen-song length, a particular that proves problematic in light of how each holds up under repeat play. Yes, it is too early to use the ‘album of the year’ label, but InnerWish looks to be a very strong contender regardless.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Roll The Dice” (4”30), “Broken” (6:14), “Modern Babylon” (4:48), “Machines Of Fear” (5:00), “Needles In My Mind” (5:57), “My World On Fire” (4:36), “Rain Of A Thousand Years” (6:49), “Serenity” (5:05), “Sins Of The Past” (5:32), “Through My Eyes” (5:48), “Zero Ground” (4:58), “Cross The Line” (4:56), “Tame The Seven Seas” (5:45)
George Eikosipentakis - Lead Vocals
Thimios Krikos - Guitars
Manolis Tsigkos - Guitars
George Geogiou - Keyboards
Antonis Mazarakis - Bass
Fragiskos Samoilis - Drums