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This ain't no fancy pants New Testament shit - 80%

Xlxlx, January 14th, 2018

Do you like fat, chunky riffs in your power metal? Lots of catchy choruses? Simple, meat and potatoes songwriting? Then meet your new friends from InnerWish, hailing all the way from Greece to cave your skull in. What we have on display is the kind of power metal that makes no pretensions of being anything else; it's melodic, it's heavy, and the choruses stay with you for days after just a couple listens. If I had to draw a comparison to anyone, I'd mention post Paradise Lost Symphony X, except with the more progressive elements absent from the mix. It's got the same thick, bodacious production as modern day SX, as well as a vocalist who could very well be Russell Allen's Hellenic equivalent, albeit less mind-blowingly flexible. I seem to keep saying that this is like a lesser Symphony X, but don't get the wrong idea; InnerWish are very much able to stand on their own, no comparisons needed.

The first salvo of the album is a good demonstration of the band's credentials. From the clearly Painkilleresque guitars of "Roll the Dice" to the crawling, menacing mid tempo of "Machines of Fear" or the pure-hearted, classic gallop of "Needles in My Mind", InnerWish waste no time proving that they've been at this game for a long time, and they know how to play it. If something like "Broken" doesn't have you at least enthusiastically nodding your head, with its fierce, sharp guitars and gruff yet wailing vocals, then why the fuck do you listen to power metal? What, because of Rhapsody? Well, that clearly explains your dead-eyed stare and dragon T-shirt covered in drool!

While I can speak a lot about how serviceable and just headbangable the guitarwork of InnerWish is, I think the biggest praise must go to vocalist George Eikosipentakis. Mr. Tongue Twisty Greek Surname surely knows how to craft the kind of vocal melodies that stick to your brain like parasites on first listen, all while maintaining a perfect balance between his crystalline tenor wailing and a rougher, ballsier style. Listen to the chorus of "Sins of the Past", for one; that kind of hopeful, epic, "the world depends on my next action" tone isn't something just any shmuck with aspirations of being the next Dio can achieve. This being his first time behind the mic in InnerWish, I hope the rest of the band take note of his considerable talent and he gets to be a permanent part of the crew; he evidently doesn't deserve any less.

The worst that can be said of InnerWish's self-titled is that it's a bit too one-dimensional for its prodigious length, clocking at a whopping 13 songs and a little over an hour in length. There aren't really any bad songs per se, as each and every one of them work well enough on their own. Though considering that the band doesn't really mix things up a lot and the songwriting, while truly competent, tends to stick to more or less the same model for every tune, they certainly could've tried leaving a few tracks on the cutting floor. Would've made the whole experience tighter, punchier, and less diluted. There's also the elephant in the room; the lyrics. You probably saw on your way here that, as far a Encyclopaedia Metallum is concerned, this band's one and only lyrical theme of note is Christianity, which does tend to raise a few red flags for many, myself included. Should you expect clumsy, sugary sermons in the vein of Theocracy? Sanctimonious preaching a la Deliverance? The answer is, surprisingly, no. InnerWish, at least on this album, are thankfully and remarkably subtle about their faith, merely throwing in a few token references to vague Biblical concepts and divinity, always staying far from anything that might resemble the holier than thou prattle of their lessers in the field of Christian metal.

It's truly a shame that this album's praises were mostly unsung during its release last year, so it's a pleasure to be the first one to give it the recognition it deserves as far as reviews goes. It's not perfect and it's not gonna blow anyone's mind, but it's a fun, strong slab of power metal that hits the spot whenever I'm itching for something infectiously catchy and pleasantly heavy. Heartily recommended for fans of modern Symphony X, Mystic Prophecy, Tad Morose and Firewind if the latter were any good.