Inner Circles are an Irish metal band here with their self-titled debut EP. Kinda alt-metal, kinda goth metal, kinda somewhere in between, this melodramatic release is a great fit for this time of year. Inner Circles have room to grow, but the band has established a solid baseline to work off of for future releases.
Inner Circles starts off with the tune “Possession,” a gloomy five-minute opener whose warbly guitars and understated rhythm section ease you into the EP. Some other standout tracks from the band include the exceptionally atmospheric “Doorways” and the very moody closing tune “Prophecy.” Both songs lean heavier on the goth metal side of things, in the same ballpark as bands like My Dying Bride or maybe a lighter Paradise Lost.
Despite my love for all things doom and gloom, there’s a reasonably sized elephant in the room that’s preventing me from fully loving this thing. I don’t feel the band’s vocals are on par with the instrumentation and songwriting. I wouldn’t say that they’ve got a bad vocalist, he’s got a decent enough range and can competently carry a tune, but I would say that the singing on Inner Circles is somewhat unremarkable. Part of what makes a band like My Dying Bride stand out from the mall goth crowd is incredibly dramatic, over-the-top vocals. And while I’m not asking Inner Circles to change up their vocals altogether, I think some stylistic variety or vocal effects (hey, if Converge can get away with vocal effects, anyone can) would go a long way.
Regardless of my nitpicks, I wouldn’t be surprised if Inner Circles makes it into my winter rotation. The band have the goth metal sound, at least instrumentally, down to a tee and I’m excited to see what they do on future releases.
Written by Justin Bruce
*Edited by Dominic Abate