|Power Metal, Progressive Metal
April 27th, 2004
Release length: 48:17
This man’s story is captured perfectly with the moving starter track and single off the album, “A Touch Of Blessing”. This heavy, faster paced track really hits home with it’s lyrics and how beautifully the track is performed to truly capture the confusion of the protagonist of their tale. But, that’s about it. For as moving as this track is, there’s nothing else that’ll move you as much. To say that the rest of the album is basically cannon fodder would be a bit of a lie, since there are some great songs on here, such as the catchy “In The Wake Of The Weary” which features some exceptional singing from female background session vocalist Carina Englund. But, you have some songs, like “Where All Good Sleep”, that just really don’t hold any real impact, and there’s just too many ballad-like tracks that sound exactly like the last. If it weren’t for the change in vocal performances, you’d probably sit there staring at the CD case wondering if you’re listening to “Waking Up Blind” or “Faith Restored”.
The problem with The Inner Circle is that you cannot really just sit down and listen to most of the songs casually. “Harmless Wishes” and “Waking Up Blind” sound more along the lines of lighter, hard rock power ballad tracks then anything. The music does work when used as a whole with the album, even if “Harmless Wishes” does cause this album to come off more as some sort of metal-based opera then a Progressive metal release. Unfortunately, these two are perhaps the only tracks on here that, after many repeat listens, will start to grow somewhat stale due to their simple song construction and repetition. “When The Walls Go Down” is a nice track for those who actually go through the entire album, but again, if you don’t then it’ll be garbage simply because it’s a spoken word track with the guy from all the other audio samples throughout the album basically breaking down with an instrumental going on in the background that would sound as if it were from a flashy 80’s action film.
The digibook version of this release not only looks nice in your media racks, it definitely has some nice bonus material on it. The last three tracks of the release are from an acoustic tour in France that the band did, and sound so much better then some of the acoustic ballad-like tracks that appear on here, simply because they offer a little more variety as far as the music goes, even if the tracks will have moments where the vocalist, Tom Englund, is putting a bit too much effort in there. “Recreation Day” is a great acoustic version of the song, and well worth a listen, and “Madness Caught Another Victim” is the best of the three, but “I’m Sorry” really isn’t too much different from the album available studio version of the song, just nice to have and hear is all.
The Inner Circle, despite all the pointed out flaws, is still worth your time to check out. It’s a very dark and disturbing album, lyrically and musically, even if much of the music winds up sounding the same. Granted, after your first few listens you’ll start picking and choosing the songs you want to listen to and ignore many of the others past the third track, especially if you can’t appreciate the album as a whole, which it is much better as. It’s kind of sad, really, since the introduction track of the release is so powerful, and an absolute must hear. If you have to have this album, make sure you pick up this edition with the live acoustic tracks, as they really are the next best tracks for the album when you start to tire of the same thing over and over.
01. A Touch Of Blessing – 5:50
02. Ambassador – 4:29
03. In The Wake Of The Weary – 4:44
04. Harmless Wishes – 4:18
05. Waking Up Blind – 4:23
06. More Than Ever – 4:13
07. The Essence Of Conviction – 6:07
08. Where All Good Sleep – 4:37
09. Faith Restored – 3:54
10. When The Walls Go Down – 5:42
11. I’m Sorry (Live And Acoustic) (Bonus Track) – 3:28
12. Recreation Day (Live And Acoustic) (Bonus Track) – 3:33
13. Madness Caught Another Victim (Live And Acoustic) (Bonus Track) – 3:09
|Initial Pressing Score: 6/10