Inner Shrine: Pulsar
The name Inner Shrine infers positivity, hope and strength to my mind. The cover to Pulsar appears to be a post-apocolyptic city-scape blanketed with smoke and ash. Quite a contrast. This Italian group has released four other CDs and this is described as their heaviest.
Automatic bonus point for being a concept album? We'll see.
Track one "Black Universe" opens with layered guitars sounding of black/post metal and is split open by distorted vocals and disorienting synthesizer effects. The intentonal chaos is effective to say the least. Its as if there is a warning siren in the middle of your brain and your world is crumbling around you. A single siren ends the track and gurgling water and wind begin the second; a dirge-like affair. Spoken-word lyrics over multiple keyboards and reverb-heavy drums comprise the doom of "The Last Day on Earth."
The atmosphere sounds stormy on "The Rose in Wind." Inner Shrine have a gift for building soundscapes inside these songs, all separate yet important to the development of Pulsar's concept: the end of the world and the creation of a new species.
The title track is the most-straightforward rocker on the CD even though the vocals are delivered in a distorted, spoken-word style. I've not heard any melodic vocal hooks yet; vocals have been used as an instrument to propel the concept. This is another example of how Inner Shrine use multiple layers to compose their songs; power chords plus tremolo picking plus a melody line, plus synth/keys, etc...
A big change in atmosphere occurs with "Four Steps in Gray" as the guitars are hitting major chords and even though the layers are thick there are some clean guitars spliced in the mix. The vocals have an early Cynic flavor due to a vocodor being used. I just got a hint of Smashing Pumpkins wall-of-guitars there. I'm also reminded of the guitar work of Anacrusis. This is one of the best on the CD.
The slow transformation to post-metal has been reached for "Immortal Force," another strong track with multiple layers of guitar and some key harmonized licks throughout. Just now I'm noticing the triggered nature of the snare drum which could be a product of the quality of the promo I'm hearing.
Synths and a heartbeat open the final track "Between." I've caught this song at random and had no idea it was Inner Shrine. It's pure keyboards, a very bright and postive-sounding electronic journey with samples of water and other atmospherics. Clean spoken words appear at the end. I hope this is a bridge to a sequel to Pulsar as it seems there is more of this story left to tell.
An interesting recording of post- industrial- doom metal focused on delivering a story, Pulsar by Inner Shrine is a dense CD that is impressive and worth more than a few listens.
1. Black Universe
2. The Last Day on Earth
3. The Rose in Wind
5. Peace Denied
6. Four Steps in Gray
7. Immortal Force
Added: February 3rd 2014
Reviewer: Ryan Good
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
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