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.
Band Name: Inner Surge
Album Name: Signals Screaming
Best Element: Vocals
Genre: Political hardcore
Label Name: Cyclone Records
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Political rockers Inner Surge have put out yet another hard hitting political rock album. Signals Screaming has no distinct genre- the sounds range from processed melodic hardcore to downright brutal hardcore that comes close to falling under the spaz-core genre. This album represents a complete change in genre from their heralded metal release Matrika.
Overall, this might not be the strongest of Inner Surges releases. I’m laughing as I say that, because even the weakest of this band’s releases will blow almost any other band out of the water. The album starts out with four processed melodic hardcore songs that don’t play up the band’s strengths. These songs seem to blend into the woodwork with their reliance on sung and spoken vocals and traditional instrumental parts. But as the album progresses the music progresses.
The second half of the album takes the album and the band in a completely different direction. Some of these songs remind me of the early demos of Funeral for a Friend: raw, seemingly unpolished melodic hardcore songs with a focus on screaming vocals. Others remind me of spaz-core giants Fear Before the March of Flames with the raw energy, brutal vocals, and technical instrumental parts. My favorite song, the 7 minute epic “No Profit in the Cure”, follows the spaz format and showcases the talents of the band beautifully.
While not the strongest release, Signals Screaming puts out great music where it counts and will earn Inner Surge quite a bit of recognition well outside their home country of Canada.
Inner Surge – “Matrika”
Best Element: Genre-bending.
Genre: Political Metal
I don’t like metal, but I like this. Inner Surge is hard hitting politically charged metal/ punk/ I don’t know what. Listening to this album is like going through a good indie record store and listening to every third album- you get a little taste of anything and everything in here. I hear guitar parts that remind me of The Black Album by Metallica, but then I hear tracks like “Driven” that remind me of the Canadian punk quartet Billy Talent. This album is an amazing mix of styles.
What makes Matrika such a good album is the extremely raw quality of it- the whole album seems to have not been touched by a producer. Unlike many albums that leave the listener wondering, “What do these guys sound like live?”, this album lets you know definitively.
Another great thing about the members of this band is how much they care about everything. Unlike most bands out there that claim to be “politically charged”, then turn out to be some teenage kids who don’t understand what they believe, Inner Surge really seems to stand for everything they write about. They just want their voice to be heard- for example, these guys are out doing charity shows such as “Rock against Racism 2002”. They aren’t out to get rich or to become rock stars.
This album is not an album you listen to so that you can sit back and enjoy the music. This album is an album that you have to get up and mosh to or protest to. I can only imagine the live show this band puts on. Inner Surge is not your usual hardcore/metal but definitely something you want to check out.
*Inner Surge is headed up by Steve Moore, who wrote and recorded the entire album by himself. When on the road he is joined by a full band of Bryan Sandau on drums, Scott Taylor guitar and Jason Rees on bass.