Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Inner Surge's final offering a fantastic metal farewell

February 28, 2010

I’m gonna be straight-up honest: this album has haunted me for the better part of two years. I’ve had people run off with copies of this album. I’ve lost this album in a move. I found this album six months after the move. Then Inner Surge broke up. Then I felt guilty that I hadn’t reviewed it before they broke up and put it on a shelf. Then I found other music from before the move and I reviewed that, making me feel guilty about not reviewing Inner Surge’s An Offering. So I pulled it out, even though it came out in 2008. Once I get this CD reviewed, there will be no more skeletons in Independent Clauses’ closet. And that’s a good feeling.

Another thing that pretty much sucks about me failing so hard at reviewing this is the fact that it’s absolutely great. I know that one review doesn’t make or break a band, but every little bit helps when you’re up against the forces of evil/the music industry. Okay, enough with the angst. On to the music.

Inner Surge’s An Offering is a highly intelligent metal album. This isn’t banging and thrashing for the sake of banging and thrashing; this is a political album through and through, and everything serves that purpose. From the titles (“Halliburton Piggies,” “The Monroe Doctrine,” “Stimulus Response,” “The Empire”) to the lyrics to the overall mood of outrage, this is an incredibly well-concerted effort. This is what Rage Against the Machine would sound like if it ate a metal band.

An Offering is the sort of metal I like: it’s heavy, but it’s very melodic and rhythmic. It’s recorded incredibly tightly, with guitar effects, distinguishable vocals, singing, and yet plenty of double pedal and head-banging crunch. “Interahamwe” is the best track to display all of this, as the songwriting swings from reverbed sections accompanied by non-kitschy spoken word to screamed sections underpinned by double pedal and crushing guitars. Then it segues into a quiet section complete with found sound of a crowd screaming (or a guitar effect simulating such) and whispering. And it all flows perfectly. It’s friggin’ great. It’s right along the lines of System of a Down, and that’s a high compliment.

Inner Surge is less herky-jerky than SOAD, but they replace that innovative move with endless variations on their vocal style. “Light a Fire” features vocals that sound as if spoken through a megaphone, dramatic singing, ferocious yelling, low singing, and all-out screaming. Their total control of vocal performance elevates this album above many other metal albums.

I’m sorry Inner Surge had to go, but at least they went out on the highest note of their career. From the fantastic riff of “Halliburton Piggies” to the brutal machine-gun rhythms of “Stimulus Response” to the marching, staccato riffing and rhythms of opener “The Monroe Doctrine,” this is simply an amazing metal album. I’m not saying that just because I’m notoriously and egregiously behind on reviewing this. I’m saying it because it’s absolutely true. This album is a statement, and it’s a completely solid one.

If you like political metal in the vein of System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine, or the like, you can still purchase Inner Surge’s An Offering here. Band leader Steve Moore said in Inner Surge’s farewell address that this is “an album I am proud of to this day.” He is right to be proud. It is definitely one of the best I’ve heard. You can (and should!) check out his new band The Unravelling here.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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