Visions of Apocalypse

I’m not familiar with San Francisco’s Insanity. They were apparently one of the early legendary and influential US death/thrash bands in the mid  to late 80s, but didn’t release an album until 1994’s Death After Death. So they missed the death metal explosion and peak of the early 90s, which I imagine why it was lost in the shuffle for me. I’ve seen bands like Possessed, Dark Angel, Incubus, Master and even early Death thrown around as comparisons, and I can see the legitimacy of those comparisons as even in 2015 (thought the album has been in the works for a number of years due to a number of obstacles including band member deaths), Insanity has that halfway thrash/embryonic death metal sound that was death metal before the term was coined.

So a perfect fit for Unspeakable Axe, Insanity is back after over 20 years since the debut album and sounds like they are still stuck in the late 80s/early 90s, which is a good thing. They are still playing that raw, formative death/thrash metal that was basically more aggressive thrash metal with harsher vocals  and darker themes and it sounds as dusty and primal as you’d expect without sounding like a forced retro band or a simple homage. These guys lived it and did it back then, and it shows.

Now I can’t say I’m completely enamored, and I’m not craving any of the 9 songs, but I can appreciate the sound for what it it. The guitars are nice and rough, the vocals are horse and gravelly, there’s no triggers or clicky drums, there’s no processed ultra brutal vocals, there’s nothing sterile and surgical. What there is, is a musty, shambling, fetid zombie that hasn’t quite fully rotted yet. Mummified even. And while I’m not clamoring to revisit the album, it works.

The likes of “Dread the Dawn”, ‘Tired”  and “Blind” have a certain, real raw energy that made the scene so honest back then. You can hear and feel the style that would be a stepping stone and transition to the likes of Death, Deicide and Morbid Angel  (especially in the solos), as the thrash backbone has a more technical, darker tone and delivery, not the more party vibe that thrash had in the 80s. So if that bygone era holds a special place in your heart, Insanity has come from there to the present and brought it with them very successfully.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 17th, 2016


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