In the current musical scene, versatility is something that is lacking on a big scale and this problem is not genre specific. Versatility has its own meaning in every field, come music; it has a meaning we need to understand. If you are thinking that changing and fluctuating rapidly is what versatility is, then you are wrong. When we are talking about music, and especially metal, versatility is the ability of a musician to explore his domain and the maximum he can achieve by not sticking to one particular genre or musical type and subtype, rather imagining him or herself standing on a very high peak, looking over at whatever he or she can grasp, but within the limits of the horizon, yet having a peek at everything in between.
I came across a band that according to me has embraced versatility boldly and with open arms. The band is called “Envinya”, a mysterious name making you quickly go for the dictionary, well that’s what I did, yet finding nothing, may be because the band is from Germany and the band’s name might mean something we don’t know. Anyways, Envinya was formed in 2006 and right now, I am not going to talk about the genre because I will explain it when we are going to review the debut album under consideration called “Inner Silence”.
The band’s lineup consists of the sweet sounding Natalie Pareira dos Santos on the vocals, Thomas Knauer on backing vocals/rhythm guitar, Moni Strobl on the keyboards, Markus Herz performing the lead guitar duties and one great drummer namely Enrico Jung, key expression being, “one great drummer”. The band released their EP “Beyond the Dark” in 2010, which received great musical acclaim from the German press, easily confirming the band’s musical abilities and talent. One of the websites also mentioned their EP as “Demo of the Year” in 2010. (www.the-pit.de). Following the band’s success with their EP, Envinya signed a worldwide deal with Massacre Records in the beginning of 2012, giving us “Inner Silence”, which was released on January 25th, 2013 as the band’s debut album.
Now before I go into this, I have to tell you about the technique by which I look at albums and their properties. Each and every listener has a perspective when they listen to an album, I have mine, I may be wrong, may not be up to your expectations, but these reviews are meant to tell the reader what they should expect before they are going to do the honors of listening to an album. And hence I will start off by the artwork. The cover art is beautiful and captivating, showing us a green tree on top of a rock, elevated on a ground in a lake or river, with birds around that tree and at the same time, an eerie presence surrounding the whole scenery. What I take out of this is versatility, why? Because I see green, I see water, I see birds and I see darkness merged together which can easily be correlated to the band’s musical experimentations, gelled into one solid artwork.
The band’s genre is still a question to me, and the reason for that is how they have touched various dimensions with the utmost ease, and to elucidate this I will literally give you a walk-through of the whole album in a way that will openly explain what and how the album sounds in the first listening.
The album has a grandeur start, with an inquisitive buildup in which you might not be aware of the kick you are about to get as soon as Faceless starts off, a very catchy musical symphony and the band is instantly getting into the act with a beautifully constructed drumming pattern accompanied by European sounding vocals from Natalie. The guitar work throughout is commendable with most of the riffs sounding Power Metal stuff. For Faceless, the notes used by Moni Strobl are quiet funky and different to be included in a metal band, hence the term I used was: “Bold”. Within four and a half minutes into the album, you may not feel what has happened to you but you are ready to continue because clearly that wasn’t enough. And instantly you hear a Pantera sounding riff and Forlorn kicks in with a different buildup and a very melodic sounding chorus by Natalie with guitars just playing a beautiful riff using power chord construction and increased frequency of palm muted notes. The bass work throughout is just highly professional and instantly the song comes to an end with a beautiful sounding guitar solo and a combination of some legatos.
Now you want more and you will soon hear a familiar sounding progressive metal riff accompanied by Natalie in her prime in Inner Silence, somewhat mellow than what you have heard in the first two tracks, but you will clearly be appreciating the band for its musical talent. The mixture of mellow and growling vocals will do wonders for your ears because when I started listening, I wasn’t sure what I was listening to but I wanted to keep listening because I was glued. I am using examples so that you might be able to understand what to expect, and an oh so beautiful solo accompanies Inner Silence, with very classy alternate note playing by Markus Herz and the drums are just very well done for the whole album. The clear identifiable bass drum kick just compliments each and every song in the best way there is. For this, I must priase the overall sound mixing of the album and also the work done by the drummer Enrico Jung because honestly, I am a fan now and I guess you will be too, because his method of incorporating metal drumming patterns such as the double bass is just enough to tell you how good a drummer he is. Moving on to In My Hands, you will see symphonic metal feel coming into play with a mixture of power metal drum patterns and the lead guitars and keyboards also following the symphonic metal/power metal genre. Natalie will be layering clean vocals with growling backing vocals giving us a mixture that is just to die for. Swallow starts instantly and at this point as a listener I felt a lot of changes by the band in their musical exploration and not just sticking to one genre but just sounding something spectacular and different. The song continues following a heavy metal pattern mixed with power metal riffs and drumming just spot on.
At about the half way point, the album just takes a drastic turn, not downwards, but to an absolute high point. To my mind, on the first half of the album, the band is sort of showing you what they are capable of and say “get ready to see us in a totally different way”. Satin and Silk starts with a Slayer sounding riff, and instantly you will feel some resemblance of the initial notes to some song by Slayer until the keyboards tell you something otherwise. With Natalie coming in, with beautiful vocals and the growling vocals, are just superb. For me Satin and Silk is the highlight and it clearly tells us why this band is extremely versatile in what they have produced. The song has a beautiful interlude and the riff following this interlude is something that you would listen to again and again, groovy, worth head banging to, followed by a grungy sounding solo, melodious is the word for all the solos in the album. And after this an eastern sounding start to Mirror Soul, brings down the whole feel of the album, again exploration is the forefront being used by this talented group of musicians. The excessive use of drum Toms in this track gives a feeling of some buildup and shifting into power metal elements often makes you wonder what versatility in its true meaning is.
Coming to the last three tracks of the album, well, they are three super sounding tracks. I feel that the last three tracks together are the most powerful and well composed, versatile tracks on this album. The guitar riff on Too Late is power / heavy metal stuff and there is a moment in this track where the whole feel shifts into a die-hard heavy metal substance. Then you hear another symphonic /power metal constructed sweet sounding guitar solo by Markus Herz. Beyond The Dark has a very proggy start but instantly shifts into something that is touching doom metal. The highlight is alternate growling and mellow vocals with Natalie’s clean vocals mixed well into the heavy metal dimension this track creates in the midst. And at the start of Demoralized you’ll sure be greeted by a very good power metal song construction mixed with orchestral elements and intervals, with Natalie just telling you why European female metal vocalists are the best in giving us heavenly vocals. And just like that the album comes to an abrupt end.
To summarize, by the time you reach the end you will question yourself: “Have I listened to every genre of metal in one album?” If this question is put up to me, I would say to some extent yes, because it is hard to register and certify what genre the band follows because they are just too versatile to be given a specific genre. Every instrument according to me has been put through a test, in which they are not preset to play one specific genre of metal. You’ll be in for a surprise as the band continues to explore the vast field i.e. “Metal” touching fields of symphonic/melodic/power/heavy and progressive metal with some doom metal sounding elements. At midway there is remarkable improvement in the overall sound of the band if you weren’t impressed by the first half of the album. The guitar, bass, keyboards and drums are played in a way they should be played and each and every musician has played its part in a highly talented and professional way telling you how capable as a band they are. First listen to this album is not enough and no matter what you feel at first you have to give the album another run and after each and every listen you’ll identify something different and unique that will continue to grow on you and making you listen to the album more. I have mentioned the genres the band follows in each and every song so name the band a genre yourself.