Inner Core – Dark Chronicles (Metalapolis Records)

Monday, 8th November 2021
Rating: 8/10

Symphonic metal / rock has broad horizons should musicians want to explore a wide array of styles, emotions, and moods across the landscape of a record. Germany’s Inner Core embrace this exploration for their second album Dark Chronicles – a quintet that since 2013 have worked at their craft. Issuing a 1st EP in 2015 plus their debut full-length Soultaker in 2017, drummer Hendrik Edelthalhammer is the latest edition to the lineup from 2020. At one time the membership included a violinist, so it’s evident throughout this twelve-track outing that the band use a lot of sweeping, dramatic/cinematic flourishes that contain adequate operatic/classical/folk textures against the conventional metal platform to express their ambitious ideas.

You’ll hear flourishes of shredding guitar play from Massimo Giardiello in frets of fury during the appropriately theatrical “Symphony” arrangement – the opening very calm and serene which builds momentum through steady mid-tempo riffs and the confident, gliding melodies of Anna Rogg. Anna as a vocalist has the proper operatic training as well as a sense of when to vary her emotional register to connect for the audience – check out her melodic to upper falsetto charm for “The Queen I Am” that matches the driving guitars and orchestration/keyboard cascading support for the verses and chorus. Occasional modern nuances come to the forefront (enhanced vocal effects, larger than life choirs) as well as sword clashing/narrative sequences to embellish the proceedings while not taking away from the main songwriting and performances on hand. It’s evident that the five-piece possess elements of influences that come from the camps of Nightwish and Epica, but there are also electro/cyber textures for “Morning Shots” as well as exotic, Middle Eastern measures on “Desert Snake” plus “Unholy” to stretch these musicians into dynamic pastures which will hopefully continue to be explored for the future. At 71 minutes plus of material to process, there are a few times throughout where Inner Core could maybe reign in some of the bombast and instrumental excess – food for thought as consumers’ attention spans often wane around the 50 to 60-minute mark in this genre.

Those who love an expansive symphonic metal group that has keyboards, orchestration, and choirs going hand in hand with stunning vocals, blazing/heavy guitars, and versatile rhythm section work should be pleased with Dark Chronicles.

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