Inner Siege - Kingdom of shadows 4.5/5
2. Fight on
3. Dragon rider
4. Children of winter
9. What kind of love
10. Ultimate sacrifice
From the heart of America - Peoria, Illinois, comes one of the best debuts we’ve heard in a while, representing the greatest traditions of U.S. metal in a powerfully polished and memorable package.
For people like me, Queensryche’s arrival on the metal scene in the early 80s was a transformative act, and while proudly founded on the basis of Judas Priest’s greatness, Geoff Tate’s majestic vocals conjured a new dimension in metal glory. There followed magnificent lesser known bands like Lethal, Hittman, Kamelot, Crimson Glory and Heir Apparent, that in their own way captured the same spirit and power, and was later picked up by singers in other countries like Michael Kiske and Andre Matos. It was the birth of a classic American metal sound. As of late, however, it’s not a style we’ve heard from many bands, as the strong traditional metal leanings in Europe have long evolved their own voice and power metal sound. Inner Siege arrives to bring a glorious rebirth to that genre and sound, with deftly constructed songs and masterfully played instruments, all drenched in an excellent production that makes it feel fresh at the same time it’s powerful and familiar. Fans of some of the more direct European metal bands, like Hammerfall and especially Dream Evil, will also find much to love in the direct metal stylings of ‘Kingdom of shadows’.
Jeremy Ray’s vocals carry on the mesmerizing tradition of the singers mentioned above, not only bringing stunning vocal abilities but that all important emotion that drives the songs and listeners, and puts the power into moderate tempo songs. “Children of winter”, my favorite song of the CD, is an example of that, with the chorus vocals lifting your heart up while the underlying metal music gives you its satisfying metal crunch. It’s a magical feeling that drives this CD, and will feel so great to people who loved CDs like Heir Apparent’s ‘One small voice’ and Lethal’s ‘Programmed’. The guitarists, Kevin Grose and J.L. Prater, bring the sharp metal edge to the music, delivering tight palm muted riffs through the verses and choruses, with precise rhythm, and offering up great leads and solos. “Ravn”, the bassist, who brings some European metal credibility from Norway to the U.S., lays down the pulsing, driving flow of the rhythm for the CD. Wade Helm on drums does a great job not just providing a solid, roaring, metal back-beat, but incorporates fantastic rhythms within the overall tempo that gives the drums a quasi-melody, a powerful voice that is more than just speed. It’s something you hear from really skillful drummers like Dave Lombardo, especially on those songs when they slow down.
Finally, the band has released a surprisingly professional sounding CD for a debut, with Fredrik Nordstrom from Dream Evil mastering the disc, and the end results stand up against any of the bigger metal releases these days, especially because it focuses on the clear, sharp, full metal sound people like me love. Also, as you can see above, the cover art is a great painting from Gustavo Sazes, who has done covers for Firewind, Arch Enemy, Angra and Morbid Angel.
From top to bottom, ‘Kingdom of shadows’ is a stunning debut CD, and those who love the clean, classic U.S. metal sound referenced above, should rush to purchase it.
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