Frontiers [Release date 16.07.21]
Produced by talented Argentinian producer, Guillermo De Medio, Inner Stream’s debut album, Stain The Sea is a minor delight of Symphonic Metal, programmed sounds and Gothic Rock.
The band is primarily singer/songwriter, Inez Vera Ortiz, who paid her dues circulating through several bands and related metal genres in her native South America. She now lives in Spain and subsequently drifted into Frontiers’ orbit, and was promptly signed up. This is the result.
De Medio has produced albums byTarja Turunen and Barilari (A Rata Blanca offshoot). Ortiz is a huge fan of Evanescense and Within Temptation, so clearly, writer and producer were on the same wavelength from the start.
It’s surprising then that some of these songs lack the strong melodies we expect, maybe the searching psychological elements in Ortiz’s lyrics are sometimes too heavy for a melody to carry. But they more than make up for that in presentation… the arrangements are light on their feet… Ortiz’s vocals skip across the slight melodies of ‘Fair War’ and ‘Aftermath’, turning them into songs about style. These are Symphonic Metal experiences that challenge audience expectations.
The Gothic rock undertones of ‘Massive Drain’ and ‘Hunt You’ are slickly presented. The melodies burn slowly, flaring brightly at the right times. De Medio double tracks Ortiz’s vocals, shadowing her natural mezzo with a whispering soprano, spicing the effect with bursts of busy guitars. It’s just one of many tricks he pulls out from his not inconsiderable producer/arranger playbook.
And so it goes with the rest of the album. It never settles into one recognisable style. De Medio makes sure of that. Like throwing pizzicato strings into one of his best pieces of writing, ‘Dance With Shades’, and counterpointing Ortiz’s doubled up vocal melodies on the atmospheric ‘Drown Me’, the nearest thing to a ballad here.
There’s never a dull moment, and even as the album spins down to a finish, ‘Real’ is there to remind us that the pairing can serve up powerful, jagged edged Symphonic Metal just as well as anybody. ***1/2
Review by Brian McGowan
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