Released by: Massacre Records
Release Date: Out Now!
Genre: Heavy/gothic metal
Natalie Pereira dos Santos – Vocals
Thomas Knauer – Rhythm Guitar & Vocals
Markus Herz – Lead Guitar
Moni Strobl – Keyboard
Lorenz Henger – Bass
Enrico Jung – Drums
03. Inner Silence
04. In My Hands
06. Satin And Silk
07. Mirror Soul
08. Too Late
09. Beyond The Dark
Gothic metal. It conjures up the vilest, most despised clichés and stereotypes of any genre. You either get the sappy, sugary band with an androgynous frontman or the tacky, pseudo-vampiric guys around a frontwoman with an impressively protrusive bust. That or you could also get the operatic virgin. One only needs to remember the late 90s/early 2000s with Napalm Records gracing 90% of their cover artworks with naked women. Even black metal didn’t escape that trend (Mactätus)! Yet, you also have some bands which fall into the gothic metal genre which are genuinely talented and interesting, such as Echoes of Eternity, Draconian or Dreams of Sanity. For those who would despise female vocalists, there’s some great male-fronted gothic metal out there, such as Paradise Lost,Entwine or Throes of Dawn. Unfortunately for those who can’t stomach female vocalists, the band I’m introducing to you with this review is female-fronted. That said, the sound here is far removed from the operatic-sung, melancholic gothic metal. Instead, they opt for a heavy, chunky and modern heavy metal-driven sound which may turn off some but enthrall others. Ladies and gentlemen, enter Envinya. Does their sound please the ears of yours truly? Read on to find out!
Right off the bat, it could be said that this Bavarian (German) band does things in an old-school way yet there is an undeniably modern touch to their sound, mostly brought by the intrusion of electronic samples which thankfully don’t take from the enjoyment of Inner Silence (their debut album) for me. Even though I’d say their main style is gothic metal, their music is quite difficult to pigeonhole, since it draws from many different genres such as traditional heavy metal, progressive metal, a bit of extreme metal and even a dash of power metal here and there. Indeed, we are quite far from Evanescence or Within Temptation here, for better or for worse (depending on the listener).
As I said before, the vocals here are provided by front woman Nathalie Pereira dos Santos, who has a voice which will please those who despise the operatic vocal approach. She has a clear, powerful tone which is pleasant to my ears and doesn’t get grating or boring. There are also a few harsh vocals and there on the album provided by guitarist Thomas Knauer which actually aren’t horrible. Speaking of guitar work, I find it quite good throughout the album. It doesn’t really go into complex, overly technical playing but the guitar tone is terrific and it does the job perfectly. I also like drumming, as odd as that may sound from a gothic metal album. It’s very dynamic and energetic and doesn’t sound like a tin can (like on a certain Metallica album). I keep trying to find some names to drop but I really struggle, as their sound is rather different and doesn’t quite sound like anyone else I know. The only comparisons I can draw is with Echoes of Eternity (not so much in the vocal department but rather, in the way that the sometimes quite heavy music accompanies the vocals) as well as with Deadlock’s Bizarro World album. But even that does not quite do justice to the band, I find.
As such, instead of rambling on, I’ll skip ahead and describe the songs the best I can. The album opens up with “Faceless”, a strong opening track that is a good showcase of the band’s sound but I actually don’t find it to be an optimal opener. Given the fact that the album doesn’t have an intro (thank you Envinya for not falling into this annoying tendency to put a meaningless intro!), I would have chosen a more energetic song to open the album, such as “In My Hands” or maybe “Forlorn”. Speaking of which, “Forlorn” is the second track and it’s a very strong one (a video for the song is available on Youtube at the time of writing this review). Featuring a great chorus, it’s the first memorable song on Inner Silence and therefore is a highlight for me. The title track follows, bringing some heaviness and a few harsh vocals here and there to spice it up, which as I said above, are pretty well done and don’t break the flow of the song. “In My Hands” is a very energetic song with an almost power metal-like drive and is one of my favorites here. It would have made a great opener, in my opinion. The next track, “Swallow” is a very strong song for me, thanks to its powerful vocal delivery and soaring chorus which really lets Nathalie shine and makes me realize I really like her vocal style, making that song another obvious highlight for me.
With “Satin and Silk”, we’re already into the second half of the album and I must say, things are going very well for me at this point in the album. Despite a slightly cheesy title which could lead one to think it’s going to be a silly ballad, it is instead quite a good song with an electronic sample driving the song and fitting quite well. It features more harsh vocals which this time sound a bit too much in the front of the mix but thankfully, the awesome vocal delivery for the rest of the song saves it from being a stinker. “Mirror Soul” is the next song and is a bit more of a filler song to me. It’s good but not amazing and not quite as awesome as some of the rest of the album. It is short however, so it’s not such a big deal. “Too Late” is the longest song here at just over 6 minutes and it’s sadly not one of my favorites. The harsh vocals are alright and the chorus is good but it just seems overlong and doesn’t particularly stand out for me. “Beyond the Dark” is a good song with some good dynamics but its heavy reliance on harsh vocals makes it more difficult to enjoy for me. The album comes to a close with “Demoralized”, an energetic song which ends Inner Silence with a punchy, powerful note and sort of makes me want more and entices me to replay the album, much to the band’s advantage.
So once again, Massacre Records signed a band which I really like. The folks at Massacre Records have always been a very reliable metal label for my tastes (having brought some of my favorite bands to my ears) and Envinya doesn’t escape that trend of very good signings (along with Dante’s latest album, November Red, recently reviewed on this very site and which I strongly recommend to fans of progressive metal). I can definitely see myself buying this album when I see it in my record store (which I will do, if I see it). Despite a few songs not quite standing out from the rest, the band is most definitely onto something with Inner Silence and the only advice I can give them is that without completely toning them down, they would do well to rely on Nathalie’s voice more than Thomas’s harsh vocals in the future, as she is a fantastic vocalist.
In conclusion, don’t let the “gothic metal” tag scare you, as this is certainly not in line with most bands you’d steer clear from in this genre. Inner Silence is a damn solid slab of heavy metal with some gothic touches and if this sound is what “modern gothic metal” is like, I’m all for it. It just rocks hard and kicks ass. Isn’t that what metal is all about, anyway?
Written by Chris Auclair