Released: 2011, Inner Wound
A bit of an odd name, but a cool one nonetheless, a classic ‘old-school’ metal logo, and an eye-catching cover depicting some sort of demon-chick immediately drew me to this album. Fortunately the fine features on the surface continue where it counts, namely the music. This Swedish four-piece has just issued their self-titled debut. It’s a little on the short side at eight cuts at just under 40 minutes but back in the 70’s and 80’s that was a pretty standard album, about 20 minutes per side on a slab o’ vinyl.
Some of the preliminary press was tagging these guys as a cross between Fates Warning, Queensryche and Iron Maiden. I thought to myself, “Yeah, right. I’ve heard THAT a thousand times before.” However, surprisingly that is a really accurate description. My initial impression was that it could have been a lost 80’s Queensryche album!
It’s a pretty straight-ahead metal album with big 80’s classic metal influences. There are a few moments of flair with acoustic guitar, the occasional female vocal, some whistling but for the most part it is just classic, guitars, drums, bass. There are some fast songs, some mid-tempo songs and a huge power ballad called ‘My Mistakes’ that could have been a big hit in the 80’s. The solos are clean and elegant, not too overbearing or indulgent. The vocals hit that sweet spot of Tate in his mid-range and perhaps a combination of Ray Alder as well. Hell, they even sound like newer Edguy at times without the quirkiness.
The key component for me is the songs are strong, well-written, well performed. I’d imagine many modern metal fans might find this on the mellow side. It’s certainly not Melodic Hard Rock by any means, it’s heavier, it’s pure metal but of the rare, classy sort that few bands can pull off. Let’s drop a few more names shall we? Old Kamelot (pre- Kahn) old Symphony X (pre-Allen), and a whole host of obscure late 80’s, early 90’s bands like Wicked Maraya and Masquerade. Malison Rogue may have limited appeal to younger fans in these crazy times of everything being sonically over-the-top, but for a debut the band shows a remarkable sense of maturity and sophistication and adherence to a very pure Metal template.