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Inner Sense - Life Sentence

Inner Sense – CD Review
Life Sentence

 Inner Sense – Life Sentence

CD Info
11 Tracks
English lyrics

As I am always on the look-out for new music, I get tickled when I come across something catchy and fast and that piques my interest immediately, and this was the case with Swedish-Finnish melodic metal outfit Inner Sense, who call Stockholm home. I discovered them via Facebook, where I get a lot of new music finds from, and found their first single and music video, “Only the Silent”, to be right up my alley.

Inner Sense has been around for a while, and their first incarnation came in 2008 when vocalist Jenny Larsson and guitarist Markus Sarronlahti teamed up to create a nifty song-writing duo after leaving a band they had been in together where they had been the main songwriters. This duo obviously works really well, because for a debut album, the songwriting on this album is really mature and polished. They have obviously honed their craft over the years, because seldom does a first release contain the amount of catchiness, great hooks, and memorable melodies that Life Sentence does.

The introductory track, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, starts things off at a galloping pace. If you’ve been reading my reviews for any amount of time, you’ll know that I place a lot of importance on the first track of any album because it sets the tone, pace, and expectation for the rest of the album, and it has to leave a good impression if the listener is going to keep on listening. In this case, “St. Elmo’s Fire” does just that. It starts off with a crisp drumming intro before the guitars join in with a fast riff. Keys, incidentally, are also handled by vocalist Jenny, and she does a very competent job with them throughout the album.

But it gets better, if you liked that first song! The aforementioned “Only the Silent” is the second track and it is one of my favourites on the album, getting very regular rotation on my home stereo system and on my phone when I am commuting around my suburban patch. Check out the video I linked to above; it’s worthwhile for sure. This song is dark lyrically, seeming to deal with mental states and the darker parts of the human psyche, and it’s super hooky. I love a catchy chorus, and I find myself humming it often because it definitely sticks with you. I don’t come across stuff this catchy all the time, that’s for sure.

Another strong track that I regularly play is “Pitiful Mind”, track six. This is the longest offering on the album and it’s the most complex as well. Again, dark lyrics and a great sense of atmosphere created by a mid-tempo and a super heavy guitar riff. There is an aggressive pre-chorus leading up to another very catchy chorus. The chorus also contains some really nice vocal harmonies, which I loved and which add to the atmosphere a lot. Jenny sounds her most intense and moody in this song, showing great emotion. I like how this song has different sections and some temp changes, giving it a proggy kind of overtone. This song I think exemplifies the talented song writing apparent throughout the CD.

Other songs of note I particularly want to highlight are the mellow, ballady “Safe in the Shadows”, which showcases Jenny’s talents on the piano. It has some very powerful, poignant lyrics and some nice symphonic touches. “This Body of Mine” is also a very good song, that has come decent complexity as well. Finally, a second ballad, “A Different Part of Paradise”, is another favourite of mine.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Life Sentence, it’s not without its faults, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what I didn’t enjoy about it. That mainly boils down to one thing, and I hate to do this, but I must: I didn’t care for the vocals. While I believe that Jenny has the power, guts, and emotion to carry off the songs on this CD, I found her vocal performance to be awkward and lacking in a certain melodic quality I felt this album sorely needed. She has a sharp tonality, and her lower register, which she uses regularly throughout Life Sentence, needs some work because it really sounds like she is struggling with those low notes. I realize this is ironic given that Sonic Cathedral’s function is to celebrate female vocals in metal and hard rock and here I am saying that the vocals here are the big miss on the album for me personally, but I felt strongly that I needed to mention this.

But despite what I didn’t personally like about this album, there is certainly a lot to like about it, as I hope I have conveyed. I think Inner Sense has a ton of potential, and I for sure wish them all the best in the future because I believe they have tons going for them. The songwriting and compositions are very strong, and the musicianship is excellent. Please check them out, and see for yourself.