Insanity - Visions of Apocalypse - (8/10)
Published on November 21, 2015
Second chances are few and far between but good death metal albums aren’t. That’s why when a band returns to finally release its second album 21 years after its debut the reception can be mixed, usually piquing as much interest as skepticism. Enter Insanity, the plainly named but not so plainly riffed death/thrash hybrid from California that stands above the other similarly named scores with a style that doesn’t sound too out of place during the time the band actually formed.
Some progress, though, has been made which the opening track, “Sacrefixion,” shows off by mimicking Immolation’s Here in After quite interestingly and wandering solos that certainly speak a greater degree of melody and creativity than most 80s death metal bands usually could muster. It is an extremely varied and fastidiously riffed track that also reminds one of Obituary, Bolt Thrower, and Demolition Hammer, a fine cocktail of death indeed, but one that, like Deceased’s Blueprints for Madness, has a frenetic but cohesive nature. From one seemingly random riff to the next, such as the hook-and-groove bait of “Tired” or the unexpectedly atmospheric opus of “Visions of Apocalypse,” Insanity displays confidence through experimentation but also competency through its old school heritage.
Indeed, that Insanity could make it all work is a feat worth admiring, especially considering that the guys apparently don’t have much previous band experience, with the exception of the omnipresent Ivan Munguia, who must have played a significant role in this album’s conception, if not in the songwriting department, then definitely in its technical execution. The album, despite its gritty and primitive façade that the downtuned guitars, bass-heavy production, and vintage riffs emanate, still comes off as deliberate and refined, a pattern that Deeds of Flesh has been displaying with each release as well.
There are some rough patches, though, as can perhaps be expected with this intentionally coarse style of death/thrash, that tracks such as “When” demonstrate with a directness that lacks staying power. Juan Casarez, too, as snappy and rhythmic as his drumwork is, can be a trite too excitable when the riffs break into a frenzy and get buried under the weight of the murky production. It’s not pretty during these moments, and even when tracks suddenly end without a warning, the thoughtfulness previously on display seems off in its juxtaposition. A bit more consistency, indeed, would have brought this album up to a more dignified level where its capriciousness would be an unequivocal virtue rather than the occasional burden. Perhaps over time can it be tempered and tamed into the formidable beast it so deserves to be.