Album Review: Souls of War – Inner Decay

Everyone misjudges a band on occasion, it happens to the best of us.  I can admit that at one time, I did not recognize the greatness of such bands as Paradise Lost, and Enslaved.  In the case of the former, I heard “Draconian Times” when I was 15 and didn’t give them another chance until just a few years ago.  In the case of latter, I got a copy of “Vertebrae” after reading rave reviews, but only listened to it once and took years to dig deeper into the band’s discography.  I now love both albums, and consider both bands to be in my top 10 favorites of all time. 

I don’t bring up these examples to insinuate that Chicago’s Inner Decay is somehow on the same level as the aforementioned bands. I’m merely illustrating how I had misjudged both bands, and as a result, I arrived super late to the party for each.  As you may have guessed already, Inner Decay is one such band that I had misjudged.  Gotten off on the wrong foot with them, so to speak.  I saw the band perform live a couple years back, and for whatever reason, the band didn’t really make an impression on me. 

They were just an opening band that I thought was forgettable. More recently, I had seen a Facebook event page for a show the band was playing.  All of the other bands on the bill began with the letter “D”, so I began petitioning, unsuccessfully, to have the band change their name to “Dinner Decay” just for that show.  In my mind, I had them pegged as just some generic death metal band that shouldn’t be taken seriously. 

Oh how wrong I was!  

Maybe the band has improved through hard work and determination, or perhaps I had not been paying close enough attention when I saw them live.  Whatever the case may be, the band’s debut album “Souls of War” should not be overlooked or brushed aside.  Inner Decay has delivered an album of 9 songs that fit somewhere between the stomping grooves of American Death Metal titans Jungle Rot, and the melodic aggression of Swedish legends Hypocrisy, with lots of old school flavor. 

The album begins with the short dirge-y orchestral “Intro”, and I am a sucker for dirge-y orchestral intros!  That was the first sign this was going to be an enjoyable listening experience.  “Intro” ends with a 4-count on the snare drum, and then we are off to the first song of the album, “Blood on My Hands”, with its furious galloping rhythms, and savage growls from vocalist Silvestre Flores.  The guitar solo in this song features plenty of harmonizing and whammy bar action, evoking the guitar work of death metal legends Death & Carcass. 

Coming up next is my personal favorite from the album, the infectiously catchy “Down the Civilization”.  The chorus of this song was stuck in my head for days after I first heard it, and still pops back in quite regularly.  There are honestly not that many local level death metal bands I can say that about.   If this song doesn’t get the mosh pit going, then I don’t know what will!   

The title track is another highpoint of the album.  A pissed off diatribe if there ever was one, yet it makes itself memorable with its rather upbeat rhythms and another highly effective chorus.  The band slows things down after the guitar solo for a delightful chunky mid-paced riff that climaxes with a short drunken sounding guitar lead, the kind that reminds you of what made early 90’s death metal so special.  You’ll keep coming back to this song just to get to that part.  

Oceans Away”, & “Rot Within” slow things down a bit and showcases the more melodic side of the band’s sound, but is still heavy enough to fit right in with the rest of the material.  Grammatical errors notwithstanding, “There Is No Law at Times of War” kicks things up a notch, with all cylinders firing, and once again demonstrates that one of Inner Decay’s greatest strengths is writing exceptional choruses.   

What is the moral of this story?  Well, that would be to never be too quick to judge a band based on one live performance, or one album, or the band’s image, or any other reason you might write off a particular band.  There is always a chance that a future release, or performance, could win you over.   Inner Decay has clearly won me over with “Souls of War.” 

I still think “Dinner Decay” was an awesome idea!

Rating: 4/5

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