The Last Embrace – Inside

20/03/2007 § Leave a comment

Even though The Last Embrace have been together since 1998, only recently have they managed to release their debut full-length. I have to wonder what the band’s been up to all this time, it makes me think of Left Hand Solution and how it’s taken them something like twelve years to release two albums. Yes, I know the music business can be an unforgiving and troublesome field but there’s a difference between being in a band as a hobby and putting out a new album at the start of each generation gap.

Even though I hadn’t actually listened to their EP I’d heard some good things about it and I was hoping that The Last Embrace would be one of those bands to alleviate and elevate the miasma of mediocrity that seems to be distending the femme metal scene these days. However, having listened to this multiple times I don’t feel totally satisfied that that’s what has happened here. The Last Embrace have certainly put out a competent effort, though I wanted to feel satisfied to the point that I’d stuffed my face with the choicest and most politically incorrect haute cuisine, dining on the brains of baby dolphins and pandas drowned in cognac and amaretto, only to actually feel like I’ve been given a turkey sandwich with one of those toothpicks in the middle to hold it all together.

Inside is an album of straight up Gothic rock/metal with a slight progressive edge to it. There’s nothing particularly harsh about the sounds of the guitars, it isn’t trying to give us quick hooky fixes and it doesn’t think itself to be a clever piece of work either. In a sense this is quite a humble and self-realised offering with a little bit of distortion on the guitars and Sandy’s very smooth vocals which capably dance about the staves and don’t go off at any point. The album starts with the obligatory instrumental before going into three of its best songs, Mother, Somewhere In The Dark Rain and Inside. These songs, along with the later crunchy It Says are certainly the best of the bunch and there are moments, albeit quite rare ones, when there are glimpses of something really special. The music is indeed intriguing though nothing novel, and it was reassuring to be in the presence of a band who were sure about their sound, even though the music didn’t quite hold my attention all the time.

And getting your attention to hold is not something that the album gets better at doing as you work your way through it. Even though Inside is composed of a very good first half, the effectiveness starts to taper off halfway through the album, heralded by the terribly average Can You? and Broken. After listening to these, the self-certainly and inventiveness which the band showed during the first few numbers seems to go out the window and the entire edifice ends up becoming watery and slightly flavourless. The songs faff about in what seem to be terribly straightforward and monotonic choruses with little variety in the notes, not really seeming to know what they’re doing and having no apparent direction or purpose. It’s easy to get the impression that the band wanted to put together a decent album here but the feeling of genuineness and resolution that fuelled the first few songs isn’t there anymore.

Nevertheless, this isn’t a bad starting album, and a starter it should be since I wouldn’t want to think that The Last Embrace feel this is an adequate representation of what they’re capable of. There’s room here for development and with a little more concentration on the finer details of what’s positive about the music, there’s a lot of scope for things to get better. There’s certainly a chance for some good progressive song writing and heaviness and though the band have experimented with these two ideas on Inside they could fuse the two together very convincingly if they chose to. Sandy, for her part, shows sparks of great promise and it would be good to hear her really pelt out the notes at full force and to be more comfortable in the music. Even though Inside isn’t the femme metal gem I was hoping for, the potential for one is definitely there, and hopefully at some point the band could realise it.

7.5/10

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