In all my years of reviewing bands I believe this is the first time I get the chance of scrutinizing the release of an Argentinian band. In all honesty, apart from the inevitable Sepultura and their spin-offs not many bands hailing from that continent come to mind. Mea culpa, I am certain there is a lot of quality bands out there, I just cannot think of too many of them nor have I apparently ran into many yet. No matter, as I now have the fruit of the loom of one such bands blasting from my speakers so I have the chance to get acquainted with what they are capable of. The band in question is Inner Stream, a pretty much invisible and unknown band with Inés Vera-Ortiz as vocalist, Andrea Seveso as guitarist, Mitia Maccaferri on bass, Nicholas Papapicco on drums and Guillermo de Medio on keyboards. Though already formed in 2008 by Inés and her brother Jorge, the band only took off and started making history when Guillermo joined in 2017, resulting in their debut full-length Stain the Sea, which was released last month. Inner Stream’s musical recipe is best described as a mixture of elements from various widely apart styles such as gothic and electronic, based on a power metal foundation. So perhaps the power metal version of nu metal would be an appropriate description.
Opener Massive Drain immediately showcases what Inner Stream stands for with its melancholic feeling intro, followed by some textbook example power metal elements as the guitars, drums and bass start backing up the vocals. Inés has a very expressive voice which packs quite a punch if she so desires, but can be equally emotional or fierce at will, depending on what the tunes demand. Up until today I have never heard of her, which actually surprises me, because man, the lady can sing! However, saying the vocals are the only noteworthy aspect in Inner Stream’s songs would be unfair towards the other elements of their music, it’s safe to say they deliver a complete package of high quality in every aspect. The elements from electronic music, courtesy of Guillermo by the way, at times predominating while at other times subtly placed, are a great feature and certainly an addition to the overall atmosphere of the tunes.
In fact the songs have a wide array of surprising, beautiful details that sadly feel a bit underexposed due to the lack of time. Though Stain the Sea offers eleven songs, it only spans a little over 39 minutes, which on the one hand leaves me yearning for more, but at the same time gives me the feeling that I have not experienced everything as it was intended. That can of course be solved by simply playing this again, but that is not the same. Anyway, those details add a lot of depth to the songs and keep things exciting, which is not easy with this type of music, as it has been overly explored by many other bands, many of which are not capable of transcending mediocrity. Not Inner Stream though. A few, by yours truly highly appreciated examples are the old school heavy metal solo in the title track which is as amazing as it is surprising, the poppy parts in The Bridge that vaguely reminisce of T.A.T.U. in their heyday and the lovely keys in Fair War and Real. But honestly, this summary does not even scratch the surface, there is so much more to be found. I can only urge you to go and find it out for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.
If I had to describe my feeling towards Inner Stream’s debut release in one word it would probably be ‘amazed’. With Stain the Sea the band has managed to merge power with both emotion and fragility, creating an atmospheric piece that both mesmerizes and mystifies at times. If anything this is a very strong debut, both within the genre as in the heavier type of music in general. The capabilities of all band members are undisputed, Inner Stream looks like they have a great future ahead of them. They tick all the boxes and then some, provided you are not looking for the rawer, more extreme types of metal. Back-boned by strong compositions, skilled execution and a great production, Stain the Sea will bring you many pleasant hours as this is one you can keep on playing time and time again. The only point of criticism is, like stated earlier, the duration of the songs which gives me the feeling the abundance of intricate and refined details is not done full justice. If the songs would have been a bit more drawn out, so that the sometimes beautiful details have more time to sink in, this would certainly have been a serious contestant for the top spot in my year list. Nevertheless, success guaranteed, this one has still reached my list. Highly recommended, you simply cannot afford to miss out on this!