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THE INNER ROAD

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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The Inner Road picture
The Inner Road biography
Founded in Reading, UK in 2011

THE INNER ROAD are a symphonic prog instrumental band, formed in 2011, from the UK progressive music band COALITION. The band members are Steve GRESSWELL on keyboards and Phil Braithwaite on guitar, who write and perform the symphonic music themselves. The style they emply was unsuited to COALITION so the members embarked on their new project, The Inner Road, that has already gained a worldwide fan-base.

The main focus of the band is the vision of Steve and Phil, but they bring in other professional musicians to assist where required with recording and live performances. Steve Gresswell began his professional career at the age of 15 in Justin Canns, and was involved with bands Gyppo, Scorpio, Scorpio II, Guardian Angel, The SG Band and currently COALITION and THE INNER ROAD. Steve was also a keyboardist for After Dark. Phil Braithwaite has received accolades for his dextrous guitar playing and is an active session musician. Phil has had the opportunity to play at some of the biggest and best venues in the UK with a great deal of professional artists.

The music of THE INNER ROAD will appeal to those who enjoy the orchestral symphonic arrangements of The Enid or other instrumental symphonic prog.

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THE INNER ROAD discography


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THE INNER ROAD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.66 | 41 ratings
Visions
2011
3.82 | 102 ratings
Ascension
2013
3.67 | 15 ratings
Sanctuary
2017
3.52 | 4 ratings
The Majestic Garden
2019

THE INNER ROAD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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THE INNER ROAD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

THE INNER ROAD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Majestic Garden by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.52 | 4 ratings

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The Majestic Garden
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Last year was a rough one for Steve Gresswell. Without going into details, let's just say that one of society's less desireables left Steve in the hospital, and further health issues may have been caused by the initial problems. Thankfully, Steve recovered well enough to get back into the studio and continue his work on the Inner Road album he had already cooking. The result is here, "The Majestic Garden".

For those unfamiliar with Steve Gresswell, he has a long career as a professional musician that extends way back to the seventies. The Inner Road and Coalition have been his regular outlets for his musical creativity since the nineties, with Coalition often including vocals and The Inner Road being instrumental. Steve is essentially a keyboard player but with The Inner Road he handles all instruments except for guitar. Of course, modern software allows for him to create powerful orchestral music or add some trumpet or violin as a lead instrument when they are deemed necessary.

I have a couple of Inner Road CDs and also a couple of Coalition albums, and one thing that I've noticed is that Steve likes to write very upbeat, feel-good music. This is true for "The Majestic Garden", too. Right from the get go, there's a chorus of men with an "ooh! wooh!" like they're going to do the Haka, and then the music kicks in with some great melodic lead guitar playing by Carl Anthony Wright. The tracks moves through different musical motifs, adding female vocals and showcasing Carl's lead guitar work. You'll soon notice Steve's method to compose is to have a few different melodies that continue to resurface as the track progresses. This means that those spiritually uplifting melodies keep coming back to elevate your mood. But you'll also notice how the vocal parts are actually the same recordings snugly fitted in each time they are required. I get the impression that the track is composed in complete parts that are then arranged in a reiterating sequence. This later seems true for many of the compositions.

The album continues on throughout with each track distinct from the others and yet similar in that the main melody is always powerful and uplifting. Even now, the trumpet-lead main melody of "Fire of Life" is playing away with grandeur and gusto in my head. Carl's guitar shifts from complementary lead melodies to lively lead breaks. Steve uses vocals and occasionally some mysterious or more mood-setting music to introduce a track, such as the chanting intro to "Lost Land" or operatic vocals at the start of "Wind from the Reeds".

The music is essentially symphonic rock with drums, bass, keyboards, and guitar hauling the way. But there's never a track that doesn't feature additional sounds such as a variety of keyboards and piano or orchestral instruments or vocals. It's these special features that add an extra dimension to the symphonic rock band sound. However, make no mistake that no matter how a track begins, you can expect beautiful and soul-shining, positive music to comprise most of each track. It is a bit predictable but on the other hand, if you just want to crank a lively and rocking instrumental album and feel your spirit charged with musical sunshine, then this is a great album for that.

I take it to mean that in spite of the challenges Steve faced in 2018, he still has a fiery radiance in his compositions, which emphasis optimism and positive vibrations.

"The Majestic Garden" is available as a download only, so I'm a bit disappointed that I can't add another CD to my Inner Road collection. Nevertheless, it can stay on in my phone's iTunes library ready for play for the next many weeks too come.

 The Majestic Garden by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.52 | 4 ratings

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The Majestic Garden
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The UK band "The Inner Road" is a symphonic prog band that writes and performs instrumental symphonic music. Founded by members Steve Gresswell (keyboards) and Phil Braitwaite (guitars), they have enlisted other musicians as needed to play on their studio albums and live tours.

"The Majestic Garden", released in March of 2019, is their fourth full length studio album. Steve Gresswell now heads the project alone playing keyboards, drums, bass and orchestration and has recruited Carl Anthony Wright to play the guitars for this album. There are 9 tracks all ranging from between 6 and 10 minutes each for a total run time of well over an hour.

The title track "The Majestic Garden" starts off quite bright with layers of guitars playing an upbeat melody. The breaks go to the synths and an uncredited female vocalist singing wordless vocals. This pattern makes up the first 5 minutes of the track, and then things move to a slower, more blues style as the guitar continues to head the track. The main theme returns on the last minute. "Call of the Spirit" again is mostly led by guitar playing the main theme, though a touch darker this time. At the 3 minute mark, the music suddenly changes to a faster theme and is now headed over by keyboards for a playful section, then later for a slower section which the song alternates between tempos. The second time the slower section comes in, a piano improvises and then we return to the main guitar led theme again with a bit more guitar improvisation this time.

"Wind from the Reeds" uses a moderate tempo, and the guitar takes the main theme again, but the synth comes in earlier with its own theme before the guitar comes back again. Later, the tempo speeds up and as the guitar plays a quick arpeggio, things start to become much more symphonic. More guitar later again on the theme, then in a fast improvised section. Later, things mellow out a bit as processed piano plays, then another return to theme. "Fire of Life" seems to want to follow the same pattern of guitar led theme, but there is a break from the norm when a symphonic section comes in provided by the synths alternating with guitar sections. Finally, after 5 minutes, this pattern breaks up as things suddenly get very dark and ominous with a wordless vocal, but just when you think things might get interesting, it soon goes back to the formulaic pattern of guitar doing the theme with variations and keyboards taking the symphonic sections. This pattern is getting too predictable.

"Lost Land" pretty much follows the same formula, but at least on this track, there is a bit more variety in the alternating sections and the symphonic sections show through a bit more and there are some synth sections. "Changing Sea" goes back to letting the guitar be in charge again, this time the improvised sections get heavier, but overall it's more of the same. Suffice it to say that the rest of the album continues in the same vein with a lot of guitar led themes and improvisation with short sections of keyboards and other things thrown in at random. Analyzing the other tracks would just be repetition of what has already been said.

The music is good enough, but seems to be catered to those that love a lot of guitar in their symphonic rock. There is not a lot of variety here however, and nothing really that challenging. Many times I found myself hoping that something interesting was going to happen in a track, but it wouldn't be long before the music would slip back into its regular formula. The tracks always return to the themes each time making the music repetitive and not really exploratory or inventive. It's just nice music that has no real highlight.

 Visions by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.66 | 41 ratings

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Visions
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars While writing material for the first work of Coalition, their leader and keyboardist Steve Gresswell entered quite often more symphonic territories.At the end he felt that these recordings were not really suitable to the style of Coalition and thus The Inner Road came to life in 2011 in Reading, UK, featuring also Coalition's guitarist Phil Braithwaite.The debut album ''Visions'' was apparently a composing collaboration between Gresswell and Braithwaite and found its way into the market in October 2011, released under the management of Gresswell's Orbital Productions.

The good and the bad appear both in this album, but fortunately the positive elements are more than the negative ones.Gresswell's succesfully marked this project as a Symphonic Prog one, even if the occasional Neo Prog flourishes dominate the album at moments.12 tracks in here and all of them sound tasteful, well-composed and enjoyable with strong symphonic textures in a modern style, led by Gresswell's impressive keyboard twists and the good guitar plays of his collaborator Phil Braithwaite.Shadows of early IQ, STEVE HACKETT, Dutch veterans TRION and FLAMBOROUGH HEAD and even instrumental ARENA are evident throughout an album, which also contains lots of sampled orchestral moves, programmed flutes and maybe some Mellotron echoes as well as a strong sense of melody.Most of this material is bombastic, atmospheric and pompous with Gresswell providing a great instrumental richness with his keyboards, ranging from cinematic soundscapes to full-blown instrumental Progressive Rock, powered by his flashy synthesizers.On the other hand the computer drumming, even if it comes as flawless, sounds quite mechanical, almost robotic, while some of the programmed orchestrations are pretty thin and pale.The majority of these pieces follow the same formula, at the end sounding a bit similar to each other, making their own identity a questionable matter.However the music is played with inspiration, passion and nostalgia, offering eventually interesting, instrumental material along the lines of the Neo and Symphonic Prog genres.

You will hardly find any elements in this album, which will distinguish The Inner Road from the mass of second-wave Symphonic Prog bands.What you will find though is some well-crafted and melodic instrumental music of fine quality.Recommended.

 Ascension by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 102 ratings

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Ascension
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars With a band name like The Inner Road, an album title of `Ascension', and an instrument credit on the back mentioning a sitar, I don't think it was unreasonable to expect a thoughtful album, full of drifting, meditative and dreamy passages! Instead, this instrumental disc is overloaded with the most excessive of electric guitar-playing, essentially 8 tracks dominated with endless guitar solos climaxing over and over again. It's perhaps the adult film equivalent of prog rock! Oh sure, there's brief bits of other instruments in between, but pretty quickly it's back to business, just what you paid for. All joking aside, The Inner Road have a very similar sound to Italian instrumentalists Il Giardino Onirico, although this has a more constantly heavy riffing backing, and of course is dominated by that electric guitar showboating mentioned above. It's not to say the album is poor, not in any way, it's just that it sells itself a bit short by focusing too much on one sound.

This two piece band are comprised of Jay Paramar on guitar and sitar, with multi-instrumentalist Steve Gresswell working with keyboards, bass, drums and arranging the orchestration. Despite opening with gentle flute over synth orchestration and choir, almost instantly chugging riffs enter just after the minute mark, followed soon after by the first rising electric guitar solo that will set the template for the rest of the disc, a busy John Petrucci-like technicality. `The Steel Sky' has some nice dirty chugging riffs over gleefully malevolent imperial synths and pounding intimidating drums, quite an addictive and relentless track, only let down by a baffling and sudden fade-out! Despite being constantly obliterated by histrionic guitar mangling, the grandly symphonic `Two Words...' has lovely cooking Hammond, slinky bass, sweeping Mellotron wisps and Rick Wakeman-esque Minimoog pomp. `Altered Reality' has lush synths and violins, truly a lovely and regal classic sophistication in addition to romantic Pendragon-like grand soloing throughout, but very quickly falls into the same pattern by dissolving into frantic, up-tempo shredding. Joe Satriani, Iron Maiden and Dream Theater fans will like those bits in this one, but it's frustrating to hear the other elements overpowered constantly.

`Troubled Memories' is another 7 minute guitar solo disguised as a proper track, so instead listen for the occasional nice Mellotron washes, murmuring bass and lovely crying female choir that wordlessly floats around the piece in an ethereal manner. `A Fleeting Dream' teases you with the opening promise of a pleasant respite of acoustic guitar around scratchy Hammond before mule-kicking you with more punchy guitar wailing for six minutes. `The Awakening' is bluesy dark grooving guitar soloing over a triumphant orchestral backing. `Flight Through Eternity' makes for a suitable climax by incorporating soothing female sighed harmonies, droning sitar strains and uplifting, joyful triumphant soloing on both synths and keyboards.

The biggest problem with `Ascension' is that that all the gorgeous synth playing and lush orchestrations are only given the briefest amount of time to be heard before being drowned out constantly throughout the entire disc. Most of these passages serve as little 30 second breathers before the guitars kick in over and over again. I don't like to come across like I'm criticising the album too much, as there's not a badly played note on the entire disc, and the arrangements all have sophisticated passages. It's just that I personally find it too much of the same thing, each track mostly following the same pattern, and I find my mind starts to wander constantly while listening to it. Honestly, despite what an exceptionally talented musician Jay Paramar is, this sort of guitar p*rnography is utterly bewildering and exhausting to me.

However, guitar aficionados will be in heaven with `Ascension' and would be well advised to look into this disc right away. Others who like a bit more variety and something more subtle should probably look elsewhere for instrumental thrills, and 2013 had simply so many other outstanding examples to choose from. But if you are curious, and possibly a fan of the bombastic approach to guitars and synths by projects like Ayreon, Dream Theater and Satriani/Vai, this might be just your thing.

Three stars for me, but guitar freaks should add a whole other star.

 Visions by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.66 | 41 ratings

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Visions
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

2 stars I find a little bit impossible to enjoy the debut album of the English duo The Inner Road. First and foremost, I don't really mind instrumental music, I kinda enjoy it from time to time. I just don't understand what's the point of albums like Visions (2011).

Usually, instrumental music has a way of using instruments as voices, so they speak. And no, I'm not talking about virtuosity and display of great technics. The problem with Visions (2011) is that each and every song on the album have all the blank space that usually a singer would fill in. And that's EXACTLY the problem. What's the point in making instrumental music where ever song is build as if you have a vocalist???

Steve Gresswell and Phil Braithwaite are good musicians, here their compositions are not that good, too simple and too predictable. The guitars sound great throughout the CD, keyboards are ok, basses are ok, drums (programmed ones) are just boring playing the same patter over and over.

If you like instrumental Prog that doesn't dare to go deep into music and doesn't mind with programmed drums, this one's for you. For me... it doesn't work.

 Ascension by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 102 ratings

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Ascension
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Inner Road second album released this year 2013 named Ascension is a good one, but to me is less intresting then their previous work. Besides head of the band the multi instrumentalist Steve Gresswell, here we have a new memeber Jay paramar responsable for guitar duties.

Well, exactly this new entry in bands sounds make me say that this Ascension is less intresting then first album. While Phil Braithwaite had a smooth elegant manner of playing with many memorable parts, this Jay Paramar while is of course a good guitarist little fail to impress me here, I mean almost every solos and guitar parts sounds the same on every piece and he has a more Steve Vai orientation then previous guitarist who had a more Camel, Genesis direction in his playing.

Ascension has a clear Steve Vai/Satriani kind of aproach sounds like a guitarist album, is progressive in sound but less symphonic then Visions and has less keyboards arrangements, and aswell the passages are not so complicated anymore, no more lots of twists and turns. I can't extract a piece to be the best, all has same level. Overall good album, but not fantastic as Visions. 3 stars for me, nothing more nothing less.

 Ascension by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 102 ratings

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Ascension
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by Roland W. Craig

5 stars I first heard of The Inner Road on Friday Night Progressive, a weekly internet radio show that has earned a reputation of playing only the best of the finest. Seconds into the first tune, I knew that I wanted to hear more. So, of course, I ordered and downloaded the entire Ascension CD. What Steve Gresswell (master keyboardist) and Jay Parmar (renowned guitarist) put together did not disappoint.

I easily settled in to the first song "Ascension" which rocked me gently in a cradle of tenderness. Then, as momentum built, my ears were carried in swaddling tones from one side of consciousness to the other. The ride was on.

A little bit of flexing muscle stretched out to the road ahead, which led to divergent planes. As the ocean lashed against the dark shoreline of one world, the warmth of the sun rose on another. Focus now became an altered reality, as breathing guitar notes cascaded like waterfalls over the substantial floating mists of well layered keys.

Amid ever changing time signatures, I caught a splash of symphonic breeze, "choraled" by a shimmering frame just before it burst forth again with rapid fury, beaming a spotlight on fascinating visions and sounds rising from both still and troubled waters.

"A Fleeting Dream" features energetic yet full and dreamy guitar licks that flicker, on a flitty little romp to the heightened awareness area of the brain, settling down into all the nooks and crannies before climbing again. "The Awakening" comes on as a billowing blend of beats and phrases, like twin cubs tumbling in each other's grasp, chasing and running from each other.

What starts as a very intriguing ride ends as a mystically inspiring flight as the final wow song {Flight Through Eternity) my favorite, completes the transfer of power from the physical to a spiritual state.

That is my "Ascension" experience. You should buy this CD and listen as your own story comes to life. You will be glad you did!

 Ascension by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 102 ratings

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Ascension
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK project THE INNER ROAD is the creative vehicle of Steve Gresswell for music not suited to his band Coalition. Collaborating with Phil Braithwaite the first album released as The Inner Road saw the light of day in 2011. Come 2013 and Gresswell has now linked up with Jay Parmar for the second disc "Ascension".

Instrumental symphonic progressive rock was the description best suited to the first album by The Inner Road, and it's one that with some reservations can be applied to the second one as well. The reservations in question are due to the somewhat expanded musical canvas employed on "Ascension", one that may not suit everyone with an interest in the symphonic branch of the progressive rock universe. The fact of the matter is that this disc might just as well be marketed towards a very different audience, namely those with an interest and fascination for instrumental guitar dominated music. "Ascension" is an album where both of these rather different descriptions can be applied, and both of them just as right or wrong as the other.

The guitar is the dominating instrument in this case however. Rarely as a standalone, dominant instrument mind you, but more often than not the most dominant in the arrangements. More or less alternating between a few fixed types of delivery for soloing purposes: Technical and intense in a manner that reminds me ever so slightly of Tony MacAlpine, melodic and elegant in a manner that invites associations towards the likes of Joe Satriani, dream-laden and atmospheric in a way that fans of David Gilmour and Pink Floyd will recognize. The rhythm guitar part of this setup is mostly riff based with dark contrasting tones at that, with a few acoustic guitar tidbits appearing now and then.

The symphonic rock aspect of this creation tends to stick to a fairly pompous and majestic one. Richly layered, with room for both organ and Mellotron, the latter a likely suspect for some neat voice effects applied here and there. Occasional dramatic surges appear, but also movements for a gentler, fragile nature appear on occasion as suitably placed contrasting elements that also expands the amount of variation. Unless I'm much mistaken, the symphonic arrangements on this disc are just as much directly inspired by classical symphonic music as by symphonic progressive rock as such, at least it's that kind of grandiose associations these arrangements inspire when I try to analyze them from my very distinctly layman point of view.

The compositions alternates between different arrangements, pace and intensity the main variations applied and often with room for an insert or two of a gentler nature as previously described. The majority of movements are guitar dominated, with the symphonic constructions as a subtle or insistent backdrop. These alternate with somewhat less elongated runs sporting symphonic oriented keyboard constellations with or without a dominant keyboard sol, a few times with a guitar solo as a supplemental, harmonizing texture of a subservient nature. Which makes for an album of positive moods and atmospheres, with a majestic pompous overall atmosphere many who enjoy symphonic progressive rock will enjoy immensely.

As far as recommending a plausible key audience for this latest production by The Inner Road, a taste for guitar dominated productions and symphonic progressive rock both is needed, and a certain affection for classical symphonic music wouldn't be amiss either I guess. Those who recognize themselves in such a description should find this album to be a fairly safe investment.

 Ascension by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 102 ratings

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Ascension
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by SuperDave

5 stars It's very rare do you run across an Album of this quality and genre of music. This is an Instrumental masterpiece beautiful tasteful keyboards and smooth flowing guitar riffs make THE INNER ROAD "Ascension" a must have for anyone's collection. It takes me back to the days of Pink Floyd's Dark side of the Moon and some of the early influences of "YES" this is a rare musical gem masterfully crafted and engineered to Musical perfection, It may not be for everyone's taste but any musician would agree this is musical instrumental poetry that we don't here in today's music world. I absolutely love it and you will too.

David Moritz Teazer

 Ascension by INNER ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.82 | 102 ratings

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Ascension
The Inner Road Symphonic Prog

Review by rpr

4 stars Occasionally I need an album or bit of music just to sit back, headphones on and chill too.

Ascension is such an album. Now don't get me wrong, this is no mere background noise. Far from it. This is a fine body of work from accomplished musicians who delve deep into the music, bringing out an emotional feel to the album in a way other bands could only wish.

Steve Gresswell, the writer & man behind The Inner Road is someone who only recently was brought to my attention. And I'm very grateful that he was.

Tracks like 'The Awakening' just flow with some extraordinarily technical guitar work by Jay Parmar & layers of keyboards from Steve.

The whole album just flows in such a way you don't really notice where one track ends & another begins, if that makes sense?

This album will certainly be added to my 'relaxing' playlist and I shall be watching with real interest what The Inner Road will be doing in the years to come.

Thanks to atomiccrimsonrush for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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