Enemy Inside is a band formed by current Mystic Prophecy guitarist Evan K, who teamed up with the German singer Nastassja Giulia in order to create a modern gothic inspired rock/metal outfit. Their debut album entitled Phoenix is a straight-forward female-fronted dark rock metal record, that does follow all the rules, but also manages to surprise.
The album opener “Falling Away” immediately sets the stage for what this album is all about. Much like many similar bands, the fine female vocals are in center accompanied by simple yet effective instrumentation, whose major purpose is to support the melodies and ad them rhythmical and energetic qualities.
The opener leans heavily against the likes of Lacuna Coil and Flowing Tears, but the focus quickly shifts towards bit more approachable influences of Evanescence. There is an almost overwhelming simplicity to the music and its strength is in serving the overall gist of the song. Production handled by Evan K is professionally executed and its refreshing to see a guitar player who understands the importance of bass in the overall soundscape.
After three fairly ordinary songs things shift towards better. Not so much because of some radical turn, but rather because following four songs perfectly display Enemy Inside’s biggest strength – the melodies. First off, the backbone of the melodies (and especially choruses) are well written with enough hook and elegance to them. What takes the melodies to whole anther level is the understanding how to add twists and unexpected choices to the basic melodies. By doing that Giulia makes the melodies more interesting and dynamic, while at all times staying true to the general melody idea. it’s quite impressive, actually.
One of those songs, “Doorway To Salvation”, features a guest performance by Georg Neuhauser of Serenity. The song is one of the highlights of the album and Neuhauser’s vocals suit Giulia well, especially during harmonies in the infectious chorus. The idea of a male guest singer on an album by the female-fronted band has been done millions of times in this genre so that does make it feel calculated and even forced. This is especially evident after few spins of the same song with only Giulia on vocals, which is fortunately also included on the album. There is more intensity and a better flow to the song and perhaps it was the duet version that should’ve been bonus-track instead.
Towards the end of the album the intensity and quality drops some, but overall the band maintains a solid level, nonetheless at semi-ballad “Dark Skies”. The cover of Texas’ “Summer Sun” might be a logical choice, but the result is forgettable and with less intensity than the original.
Lyrically the band is on anticipated grounds covering for the most part inner fights and the universal themes of good and evil. They do this in a simple matter, which does make it easily relatable, but also predictable and clichély. Phoenix is a good title and its message is comprehensive, but at the same time it’s one that has been stereotyped in popular culture.
Enemy Inside’s mission was not to change the world of music, but rather to create a strong accessible album that follows certain set of rules. This they have achieved. On top of that the album demonstrations that this band has potential for more, so hopefully in the future they will allow themselves to build on that potential and skill while at the same time daring to slowly break out of the firmly determined frame and explore the deeper waters.