HGR CD Review: Inside Out

INSIDE OUT – UNBREAKABLE (no label) Formed in 1990, Johnstown’s Inside Out released two impressive full-length, hard-rocking CDs during their initial lineup’s run on regional stages; their self-titled 1993 debut album and the 1996 follow-up, Seasons. But while founding guitarist-turned-singer Tim Frick has kept a version of Inside Out operational on area stages continuously since then, a succession of personnel moves (especially guitarists) and evolving recording technologies delayed a third album into an 18-year stretch, save for a 1990 cassette single and some teaser demos. But if you believe the adage that the best things in life are worth the wait, the long-awaited third Inside Out disc, Unbreakable, is a powerful, rewarding listen. Perhaps it was the lengthy distillation and stage-seasoning process for many of the disc’s 14 songs, coupled with Inside Out’s unwavering knack for hook-laden melodies, alluring dark-toned lyrics and tight and powerful execution; but Unbreakable stands tall as an impressive, cohesive set from start to end. The group’s style and sound have evolved from the 1980s-flavored melodic hard rock of the first two discs. The current line-up of Frick, bassist Larry Philip, drummer Mark Gindlesperger, and guitarists Kolt Green and Jay Snyder ride the borderline between classic-styled and modern heavy rock; the melodies are rooted in the classic 1980s and 1990s tradition, delivered with a contemporary abrasiveness and edge. Charging out the gate, “Demons Inside” gets down to business and announces the brute-force arrival of the current mach edition of Inside Out. It kicks off a succession of infectious, sturdy rockers including the regaining control ode “Taking My Life,” the give-it-all-themed “Sacrifice,” the introspective “Inside Of Me,” the evil-toned “Devil’s in Your Soul,” the disco beat-driven “Love/Hate” and the throw-caution-to-the-wind “Giving Myself Away.” Inside Out slows it down twice on the disc, both impressively; the darkly erotic “Vampire Eyes” (a hit at live shows and on regional radio) and the plea for forgiveness “Say.” The group throws in an acoustic-laced pop rocker in “Heaven,” and closes the disc with their stormy, nearly eight-minute title song epic “Unbreakable.” Tim Frick has evolved into a masterful frontman, conveying emotional intensity in each song; and his surrounding cast packs power into the song arrangements with thundering rhythms and stinging guitarwork. The production and mix sound full and balanced, giving the group’s attack full bite while serving the melodies. It took 18 years, but Unbreakable delivers the goods as a premium, hard-rocking set, as well as a statement of Inside Out’s undying resolve. Bottom line…Unbreakable was worth the wait. (The CD can be obtained through Inside Out’s website, www.insideoutrocks.com.)