(By Kira Schlechter, Staff Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
When musicians reach out to writers with their work, they are, of course, taking a chance. Will they like it? Will they… well, not?
ENEMY INSIDE guitarist Evan K messaged me on social media noting my interest in female-fronted metal bands and sent along the video for “Falling Away,” the first single from their début album, “Phoenix” (arrives September 28 via ROAR – Rock Of Angels Records), to sweeten the pot.
Boy, he pegged me dead on.
Singer Nastassja Giulia, along with Athens-born Evan K and fellow guitarist Dave Hadarik, bassist Dominik Stotzem, and drummer Feli Keith, are based in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and they are a well-matched unit.
Giulia’s voice is delicate but full, and while it may be somewhat restrained, lacking some stratospheric firepower, it fits in well amid the drama of the instrumentation – it neither stands out too much, nor drifts into the background. She holds her own just fine.
ENEMY INSIDE’s overall sound is reminiscent of Amaranthe (though less poppy) and Delain, more pure romantic power metal than anything operatic or symphonic.
That first single, the intense “Falling Away,” is a harrowing trek through mental illness, with a driving groove and soaring chorus. “Bleeding Out” is rich and dramatic, made dense with guitar and unobtrusive backing keyboards. The “Phoenix” title track is sure to touch a chord with anyone who’s been through tough times and trying to, well, yeah, rise from the ashes.
The terrific “Lullaby” alternates between dreamy and pummeling, jagged guitars adding edge to Giulia’s lilting vocal. The dark ballad “Doorway To Salvation” features a male vocal beautifully in tandem with the female, similar to an act like Lacuna Coil.
“Death Of Me” has an alluring 6/8 tempo and haunting imagery. The second single, “Oblivion,” is about mortality – as the band’s description reads, “about being in the last stages of life and having someone by your side when the end approaches.” It has a certain brightness of tone musically, like the end in question will be a welcome one, a relief from pain.
The last three songs are real standouts. “Halo” has a thundering groove, muscular riffing, and a spiraling chorus. The lovely ballad “Dark Skies,” made stark by piano and Giulia’s drifting, musing voice, is stunningly aching, building to a cathartic guitar solo.
And the last track, “Summer Son,” is bright and optimistic, with a buoyant keyboard backing track that lends a surprisingly clever, almost pop touch to the mix.
“Phoenix” is an auspicious début indeed for ENEMY INSIDE – Evan K can hit me up whenever he wants!
Kira spent 11 years at the Associated Press in Philadelphia, and another 11 at the Harrisburg Patriot-News covering music, specifically and frequently heavy metal. She’s been writing about and listening to metal since she was 15. Currently she also freelances for the Reading Eagle newspaper; in the past, she has freelanced for RIP, The World Of Hibernia, and Mademoiselle.