I must admit that, although in the now distant 1997 I had been one of the purchasers of the elegant digipack that enclosed Nocturnal Rhymes Entangled In Silence, in recent years I had partially lost track of the Florentine Inner Shrine. Gothic death doom with alternating female and male vocals at the time was, at least for our peninsula, a formula still adopted by a few pioneering bands, among them precisely the Tuscan band that, despite the understandable naiveté that usually punctuates a debut album, had shown first-rate numbers and potential. The continuation of Inner Shrine‘s career, however, had unraveled along these lines without actually ever taking that leap in quality that might have been foreseeable. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find the Florentine combo grappling with a new and more modern incarnation of itself, which, after abandoning the overused gothic with female vocals, lands on a form of dark and atmospheric metal that lends itself well to serve as the soundtrack to a concept centered on the destruction of civilization such as the one encapsulated in Pulsar. The return in the lineup of the original drummer Claudio Tovagli to partner with the only element present in all Inner Shrine‘s works, Luca Liotti, in fact coincides, I don’t know how coincidentally, with a return to darker sounds, shorn of the baroque elements of previous works; moreover, the use of a male voice often barely hinted or filtered gives the instrumental aspect a clear preponderance. Thus, right from the opening Black Universe, it is clear that the album will lead us, albeit through a few more robust passages, into a musical world of dark and enveloping melodies, capable of ranging between gothic, dark, post-metal and ambient. Beyond whether or not one agrees with this stylistic choice, which depends very much on personal taste, Pulsar‘s only problem is that it unwinds in a truly excellent way only up to the title track, thanks to a series of highly evocative tracks such as The Last Day On Earth and The Rose In Wind, except when it then begins a slow but progressive folding in on itself, between anonymous episodes (Peace Denied) and others decidedly of lesser impact, until the nonetheless apt ambient-sounding closing (Between). The rather uniform rhythms, the peculiar use of vocals and the cloak of darkness that envelops the work, when not supported by the aforementioned melodic cues or some measured acceleration, end up watering down the overall result, with the aggravating factor that the least convincing moments coincide precisely with the descending band of the record, when maintaining the listener’s attention normally becomes more arduous. The rating is an arithmetic average between the first and second halves of Pulsar, with a judgment, however, tending to be positive overall, precisely in view of the turning point, in some ways courageous and, as far as I am concerned entirely agreeable, that this album represents for Inner Shrine.

2013 – Bakerteam Records