Inner Monster Out - SHADOWSIDE

If you're not familiar with Brazil's SHADOWSIDE, the temptation upon greeting is to lump them in league with LACUNA COIL. A fireball frontwoman are about all they have in common. There are a few pop metal songs on SHADOWSIDE's third album, "Inner Monster Out", but there's little else to bridge this group to LACUNA COIL, much less anyone else's company you feel obliged to link them to.

Originally starting as a would-be prog metal band on 2007's "Theatre of Shadows", SHADOWSIDE has since trimmed the fat and opted for leaner, tougher and hookier songs that are pure metal in spirit. Even when "My Disrupted Reality" and "Habitchual" on "Inner Monster Out" throw in arbitrary uplifting choruses, the rest of these songs are sent out punching and kicking with fierce riffs, muscular grooves and big-time double hammers. "Angel With Horns" and "Gag Order" likewise dance and frolic with tuneful pastiche, yet you can count on punishing drives to keep these songs from dripping into AOR territory, close as they may tread. "Whatever Our Fortune" also flirts with that crossover line but it's still a crank too heavy for FM. That means the headbangers get to keep this band close to their ranks and cut loose with them.

With more exposure, Dani Nolden will become a household name of this scene alongside the likes of Cristina Scabbia, Maria Brink and Simone Simons. While her higher sopranos that emerge on "Angel With Horns", "Habitchual" and "A.D.D." are slightly more appealing than her lower octaves, there's no question of Nolden's rounded competency. Call it more authority, since her bandmates all but squash her range into the deeper ends with their constant pummeling and she never wavers. No matter how sugarsweet Nolden begins to morph her pipes, Ricardo Piccoli (bass) and Fabio Buitvidas (drums) do their mightiest to hammer down the effervescence Nolden weaves around her. To her credit, Nolden is hardly intimidated. She's forced to dip her esophagus into the mire on the quick-paced and meaty "Waste of Life", but then she elevates on the choruses and then hits gonzo caterwauls in the closing stanzas.

Perhaps Nolden's most regal moment is on the double-kicking tornado of "In the Name of Love", where she could duet next to Bruce Dickinson convincingly. As it turns out, she gets to hang with Bjorn "Speed" Strid, Niklas Isfeldt and Mikael Stanne on the balls-out title track and it's as much a metalhead party as it looks on paper. This dynamic range of vocal personalities makes "Inner Monster Out" a genuine beast.

"Inner Monster Out" will likely surprise newcomers and keep the band's faithful flogging noggin on "Gag Order", "I'm Your Mind", "In the Name of Love", "Waste of Life", "A.D.D." and the title track. If anything, this album builds strength after tinkering with riff sections and harmonious supplements in the beginning as if looking for something to build the rest of the album upon. Still, the sequential riff dissemination on the verses of "Angel With Horns" will win over many fans and guitarist Raphael Mattos has more than a few shells to dispel from his six string cannon all over this joint. Neatly bundled by Dani Nolden's agreeable wailing, SHADOWSIDE have lived up to their potential and will quite possibly become one of the hottest acts of 2013.

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