Written by Mass
- Artist: Insatanity
- Album: Hymns of the Gods Before
- Genre: Death Metal – Old School Death Metal – Blackened Death Metal
- Release Date: June 19, 2020
- Country: USA
- Highlights: Upon the Ivory Throne – Eidolon of the Blind
- Rating: 6.7/10
A Trail of Terror
Insatanity may not be a renowned name in death metal scene these days, but indeed with almost three decades of history in Northeast scene of American death metal, alongside Suffocation, Immolation and Vital Remains, they are old-timers. Forming in 1992, they soon took off and worked on several demo tapes to finally release their first LP, Divine Decomposition, in 1996. But afterwards, they went on a 24-year hiatus until 2020 when they returned with their second studio album. In the meantime, though, they kept themselves quite busy with four Eps, two split albums and a compilation album.
They began as a full-fledged death mob, these days we call bands with that attitude OSDM (old school death metal), but later on shifted a bit towards blackened death metal and brutal death metal. On Hymns of the Gods Before they have remained faithful to their roots and out from every crevice of this album oozes OSDM. The tiny tinge of black metal appears to be far from domineering and falls incompetently short in comparison to all the profuse death sound all across the album.
Nowhere throughout the album do the band get as close to a compound of black and death metal, but certainly not “blackened death,” as they do right at opening scene of Seed of Baal. It is a “compound” because it consists of both of these genres at the same time; it is death-y in guitar and drums but black-y in the vocals. However, it is also miles away from said subgenre and its standards, something akin to what Polish bands, like Hate or Behemoth, are best at.
The rest of the album rides on high tides of OSDM mostly and the band throw heavy punches at the listener, most of which go amiss. We have had many top-tier bands, legends I daresay, and tying with them means providing some music which is robust and at the same time satiates the nostalgia associated with the forerunners. What’s more, I admit that there are many who are into this particular brand of metal and praise it abundantly, but I for one prefer death metal in its more modern, more intricate form, with shovelfuls of melodic or symphonic elements cast into the mix, something similar to sections of Upon the Ivory Throne or some short moments on Eidolon of the Blind where there is a pinch of melodic death present. I also found the band’s nearing blackened death metal on Whose Hand Embalms more to my liking.
Despite being a short release, including the bonus track only about 32 minutes, Hymns of the Gods Before falls flat halfway through and the second half of the album is not quite as eventful or novel as the first half. Whatever you wish to hear from the band has come to pass in the first four or five songs and the rest are just an extension of what you have already heard, save the bonus track, When Satan Rules His World, which is a cover version of Deicide’s track which first appeared on their third studio album, Once Upon the Cross (1995). Insatanity’s version borders blackened death in parts, especially the opening guitar riff.
I would also like to turn down the music a notch for a moment and draw your attention to the outstanding, ominous desolation of the artwork. Gaung Yang’s work pretty much resembles the iconic land of Mordor; it could be a castle in that realm resided most probably by some nasty Orcs. However colossal this art piece may be, it still does not fit the theme, the title, or even the genre of the album. It would have been much better off this one and on a Tolkien-themed epic atmospheric black metal album, or at least a work somewhere near that territory. The artwork, in all its dark glory, fails to be more than a catchy cover painting that has nothing to do with the content of the box.
Overall, Hymns of the Gods Before has its moments of glory, with OSDM riffs and bombastic drumming, guttural and growly vocals and a dash of melody, but the band does not seem to be able to hold on to those moments and the final work has become somewhat uninspiring. It leaves yet some dose of hope for future records, as the band, I would assume, has been out of practice for long, but they can surely be back on top, they have just warmed themselves up and cracked some rusty knuckles!
- Lyrics: –
- Artwork: 7.0
- Musicianship: 6.5
- Vocals: 6.5
- Overall: 6.7