Greetings music lovers, after a two month paycheck job-imposed hiatus, I’m back where I’m happiest, listening to incredible music and writing about it for Lady Obscure Music Magazine. Now I have some incredible bands in the wings, new releases by Anathema, Yes, and the long awaited Enchant album, but I thought I’d get my feet wet first with some Italian prog metal, always a safe bet to get the words rolling and the head rocking. The band? InnerShine, and their debut album Where the Spirits Wander, and much to my delight, it may turn out that this album could be better than the ones from the previously mentioned heavyweights of prog. In their debut, InnerShine has released a work steeped in the classic straightforward prog metal executed to perfection, and with enough diversity and flare to make it stand out and above a good deal of their fellows. Once again, out of nowhere, we have struck gold my friends.
InnerShine finds their beginnings back in 2003, and over the years worked, honed and fine tuned the pieces until they settled into their current lineup consisting of Simone Ragni on lead vocals, Federico Bruni on drums, Damiano Fortuna on bass, Rossano Capriotti on keyboards and backing vocals, and Fabrizio Sgattoni on guitars and backing vocals. In 2013, they finally got into Krystal Cross Music Studio and recorded their debut album, Where the Spirits Wander, which was mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios). Let’s see what these many years of commitment to their craft has unleashed upon us….
Now, before I dig into the album proper, let me just state that the ten plus years between their conception and the release of this album were very, very well spent. InnerShine rains skill, experience, and finesse all over this album, beginning with five musicians who all are exceptionally skilled at their craft. The album opens with …to the end of reality, an instrumental introduction that is blissfully ethereal in nature, but with hints of a darker side, as the soft choral tones and delicate synth keys are punctuated by a repeating tick-tock that is dark and mechanical, two sides preparing for a spiritual shootout per-se. It moves straight into track two, a hard rocking number with tremendous appeal due to a hauntingly catchy hook throughout. High on a Desert Plain comes in fairly mellow and subdued, but waste no time heading right into a stellar chorus that sticks in deep. We then get our first taste of this band’s strongest component, the blistering instrumental section. Peppered throughout the album, the band’s talents truly shine here, digging in the deep pockets and unleashing fury every time, though not in a predictable manner by any means. And what I think is best of all; everyone is a seamless part of the song, to the point where the listener is an unsuspecting victim of their aural ministrations.
The next track, Divided in Two, is a dynamic song with a power ballad backbone. Ragni really stands out with his vocal work, and the solo delivered by Sgattoni is near god-tier. The highlight of the song for me though was the dramatic, perfectly structured closing segment, driven by a soulful bass riff paired with delicate keys. The rest of the band rises and falls within this, really stretching the emotions of the segment to the fullest. For me, it’s a small slice of perfect music. They then turn up the intensity with War to the War. Opening again on a subdued note, they slowly let the darkness of the subject matter seep into every aspect of their music, each member really carrying the weight of the emotions portrayed, and again, they fire of a numbing instrumental section that sets the ears ablaze. Though the instrumental sections are heavy with the blistering guitar work of Sgattoni (not really a problem with too much awesome guitar though, am I right folks?), every member takes their turns in making us pay thanks to the powers that be that made kick ass instrumentals exist in this ever confusing universe.
The real gem of the album though is the epic, Always Late, which I will stand up to pretty much any epic song out there. What makes this one stand out from most other epic though is it’s seamless quality. There are no distinctive sections, no numbered suites. It flows poetically from subdued to thunderous to blissful without us really noticing until we’re already there. By the time they hit the (again) kick ass instrumental, we realize we have been at the music’s mercy the whole time. They simply don’t make any mistakes here, and execute all the important things brilliantly. The album closes with Teenage Whisper, a softly executed two minute closer that brings us down gently from the searing tone of the album, but still drips emotion courtesy of Ragni’s stunning vocal work.
With the brilliant combination of instrumental execution, stunning writing, and a deeply soulful theme to build around, InnerShine has nailed it first time around. Many an eyebrow was raised around the Lady Obscure office water cooler when it first hit us, and said eyebrows are still raised in awe and respect. Excellent work gentlemen, and please, keep making music.