Thursday, July 19, 2012

Inner Blast: Sleepless Monster (EP 2012)

That Name Just Sounds Gross

Guest review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards Etc., home of metal, beards, and more.

Inner Blast are a Portuguese gothic metal band who released their debut EP Sleepless Monster in January of this year. The five tracks run pretty uniform lengths, totaling 27 minutes.

One of the big concerns that this type of metal often brings is a tendency to drench the music in grossly excessive piano/keyboards. While there is a keyboardist in Inner Blast, I'm happy to report that they employ the instrument with an appropriate level of moderation. It just fits in with the band, but it never overwhelms the rest of the music. And speaking of the rest of the music, the mix gives every instrument enough volume and clarity to play a role. The guitar has a pleasantly crunchy tone and solid riffs, the drumming is reserved but effective, and even the bass makes an audible contribution to the rhythm section. In general, I find the instrumental end of the record to be quite satisfactory.

My overwhelming problem with this record, though is the vocals. I would be lying if I claimed to be the biggest fan of female vocals in metal, but I can still appreciate quality when I hear it. Sadly, this record falls short in that realm. First off, the vocalist sounds like she was recorded on a mic of lower quality than the rest of the band's equipment, and as a result her efforts come out very flat and lacking the crispness of the rest of the music. Second, the vocals are too loud in the mix, often overpowering the instruments behind them rather than building on them. Finally, there is a stunning lack of variety. It sounds like the vocalist has one volume, one pace, and one tone that she pretty much sticks to the whole way through every song. Her voice really isn't bad, but it isn't being fitted into the music at all. The end effect is similar to playing a song on the radio while somebody in the room sings loudly over top of it: They don't sound like they belong in the recording and you keep hoping they'll shut up so you can hear the music.

Inner Blast certainly show some promise. They need to adjust their approach to vocals before they can live up to that promise, though. Hopefully on future releases the singing will feel more organically connected to the rest of the band. In the meantime, this record is a seed that has yet to grow into a tree.

The Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy Sleepless Monster

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