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Inner Sanctum - Principle Leader - 90%

Edmund Sackbauer, September 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Independent (Limited edition)

Having been impressed by their most recent album “Metric Genesis” I went back to check out the predecessor called “Principle Leader”. Comparing those 2 records a certain evolution can be identified as “Metric Genesis” offers more experienced songwriting and better sounding production values. That being said “Principle Leader” is a quality record by its own easily worth adding to the collection.

Inner Sanctum play a kind of Melodic Death Metal that is heavily rooted in the traditional sound of older Dark Tranquility and In Flames releases. Some of the harmonies also show obvious Amon Amarth influences. However, the music on “Principle Leader” is a bit rougher and is played with a certain rawness lending the album an edgy character. The riffs are straight-forward with the 2 guitarists Farms and Baphphi churning out some heavy and slightly stoic basic chords but also some staccato parts. The power of the rhythm guitar is complemented by the highly melodic lead work that is presented in shorter and greatly placed interludes but also in a few longer solo sections. The drumming is tight and very precise adding a few additional layers to the music when needed.

While the songs on “Metric Genesis” might be a bit more polished the songwriting talent of this band can already be found here. The guys just have a feeling for taking the various elements and add them back together to create nicely flowing songs. The interaction between the heavy instrumentation and the harmonies ranging from sweepingly epic over slightly melancholic to dark and moody is fantastic. Inner Sanctum walk the fine line between weaving a good portion of complexity into the songs but always keep a clear and comprehensible structure with enough hooks and memorable parts to satisfy the standard listener like myself.

The only line-up change between the 2 albums is that for “Metric Genesis” old bassist Kolai has taken over vocal duties and a new bassist has been introduced. On “Principle Leader” there was a different singer at work being listed as “Gnom”. While he for sure has the funnier pseudonym I cannot say that one singer is better than the other as both of them have done a more than solid and powerful job and have delivered with a pretty similar tone.

Like mentioned above one aspect that has been significantly improved is the production which sounds a lot more polished on “Metric Genesis”. I am not saying that “Principle Leader” has a bad production – far from it. However, the mix is clearer and more transparent on the newer output while its predecessor had a rawer overall sound and while all instruments can be perfectly heard a bit more punchiness would have been great.

That being said I would highly recommend any fan of melodic and powerful Death Metal to check out both albums by these brave warriors. They clearly deserve more attention.