Insanity, indeed! Last week’s poll was a heated two-way race, with Kalmah’s debut Swamplord falling just shy of overtaking Darkane in the 11th hour:
Learned a few things from this one. First, putting Julie Laughs Nomore in the second tier based on the strength of their material was a mistake. After earning, like, two goddamn votes, they’ve been relegated to the third tier to romp around with the rest of their poorly-distributed kin.
Second, the people that like Kalmah and Darkane reeeeeeeeeally like Kalmah and Darkane….which gave me hope! Neither of these bands really clicked for me in their heyday, despite significant critical acclaim for albums like The Black Waltz and Expanding Senses. But maybe, backed by the long-simmering hype of their proponents and armed with a weathered set of ears, I could muster up a new appreciation for the act that would emerge victorious.
Okay. If I’m being honest, the only Darkane releases I was really interested in re-cracking were Rusted Angel and Expanding Senses. The latter because it got pushed HARD in Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles back in the day (which was basically my 2nd bible to Metal Maniacs and earned hella nerd points for hanging 10s on overproduced bullshit like Evergrey), and the former because it was lauded on message boards for being “the good one” on virtue of it being 1) the debut, and 2) pretty thrashy before they got all LAME AND GOTHENBURG
Fast forward to my preparation for this lil venture: neither of these albums were available on Spotify. The majority of my listening is done on Spotify these days, because it has Chromecast capability and that’s what works best for my living room setup.
(If you have a problem with these methods, kind reader, I’m sorry, but please don’t try to use this as a platform to shame me into buying physical releases so I can play them on some awkward, unwieldy, outdated contraption. I like being able to switch between porn, wrestling podcasts, Lost in Vegas reactions, and Beaten to Death videos in FULL SURROUND SOUND with a mere swipe of a handheld device. If you prefer your musical consumption to be as elaborate and arcane as possible, fine. That shit is on you.
Speaking of arcane, I came across this little tidbit on M-A during my exhaustive research for this record:
AH! So it’s not pronounced DARK-ain, but dar-KANE. Interesting!)
Anyway, back to my point. I went with Insanity for the poll instead of Rusted Angel because I thought Insanity was on Spotify while Rusted Angel wasn’t. But lo and behold, I go to write this thing, and I was either sorely mistaken, or the record labels had turned the tables. No Insanity. So I fired it up on YouTube, which is a myspace-ass way to listen to music.
Verdict: It kinda sucks!
On paper, Insanity has all the tools. It’s a hybrid of melodic death and that impossibly-tight Eurothrash that was done so well in the early aughts by the likes of Carnal Forge, Dew-Scented, Corporation 187, Hatesphere, et al. Plus, it’s got a palpable Strapping Young Lad influence running through it, in both the half-yelled pseudoclean vocal affectations and the manic tempo changes.
Make no mistake: These are all very good touchstones. But despite a strong foundation and some clever tricks, Insanity is plagued with a stale sameness almost from the first minute, never really kicking into fuck-yeah gear despite drummer Peter Wildoer’s best efforts. A lot of cool elements are at play here, but for whatever reason, none of it really clicks, and most of the stuff on display has been done better by other bands.
Is it thrash? Nope! Is it melodic death metal? Nope! Would some hopeless nerd writing a review of a completely unrelated record on Metal-Archives make a passive-aggressive stab at it for being “gothenburg bullshit” for no reason? Yep!
Artistic Badness: 10
Holy shit this is one of the worst album covers I have ever seen.
Thomas Ewerhard, may this be the horrible crown upon your litany of atrocities.
I mean, it HAD to be too early to be doing the invisible fruitgrab thing ironically, right? Right?
Look, people voted for this album and apparently think that it is good, but not only is this a lesser Darkane effort, it’s also pretty fuckin far from the most savage melodeathrash offering out there. And let’s be honest, there’s really only so much of that shit you need in your arsenal.
Interestingly, a couple of the Darkane dudes crafted a pretty cool album in this vein outside of Darkane, putting the Devin Townsend Project’s Ryan Van Poederooyen behind the kit while shifting Peter Wildoer to vocals.
Rec’ing this album kinda breaks the parameters of this project’s intended purpose, but fuck it. You’ll be better off with Non-Human Level instead: