Reviews : Albums : Darkane, "Insanity"

Darkane, "Insanity"

I first heard Darkane when they appeared on the War Dance compilation. At the time the band had enlisted the talented "Speed" Strid of Soilwork for vocals, and they sounded rabid and raw. This group was ready to destroy everything. Then their debut Rusted Angel came out on War Records (licensed by Relapse in the U.S.), and I was once again completely impressed, though the vocals were now being sung by one Lawrence Mackrory of Forcefeed fame and Darkane sounded quite different. Whereas Speed's vocals were unmistakably death/black metal oriented, Mackrory's had range that spanned from nearly clean to very dirty or gargled snarls that felt very much more thrash metal. They fit the band's mechanized music like a glove.

Darkane's sophomore effort is yet another surprise, though it is one of those really great surprises that doesn't seem to happen very often in music. Mackrory had to leave the band, and Darkane was forced to find a replacement, a formidable task. The truth is, though, their choice of Andreas Sydow for throat donations couldn't have been better. His range and vocal style is a carbon copy of his predecessor, though Sydow may even have more energy and use of higher pitches than Mackrory. So, with vocals once again properly secured, the band was able to pull of Insanity without a hitch?barring a few natural disasters.

The music, what's the music sound like? There are a couple ways to describe it. The first is that you should expect exactly the same style of dark, cold precise thrashing that was on Rusted Angel. And for those of you who don't have the extreme privilege to have heard (and consequently to have bought and now own) the band's debut, here's the long answer: Darkane is a very unique beast. The music has a definite Swedish sense of melody and speed, but unlike many of their country mates, the band chooses to make every single track about as tight precise as music can get. I am not saying that other bands aren't accurate musicians, it is just that Darkane is a circus act when it comes to making technical sound smooth. To add to this, the band incorporates choirs and symphonies in strategic places on the album (often in intros and occasionally in some other songs?check out "Calamitas") which instead of warming things up, makes them even more threatening and hostile.

Guitars on Insanity are generally very thrashy, played with flair and a sense for shredding groove. Christofer Malmstrom and Klas Ideberg (who is also in shred monster Terror 2000) basically just wail on their instruments every chance they get. Smart bridges, solos that demonstrate the utmost in dexterity and technical prowess, and chilled out sections can be found on most every song. The drums on Insanity may just be the reason why the album title is what it is. They are maniacally clear, with Peter Wildoer doing his damnedest to give us all hemorrhagic strokes (and maybe himself too). Most of the songs sport a fat groove, with everything from slower portions (check out the bridge in "Third" for a good taste), to the blast beat that fades in to the frenzied mosher "Distress." This album has almost every beat you'd want to ever hear, and to create the perfect link between percussion and strings, bassist Jorgen Lofberg supplies the convincing low end that neither completely mirrors guitars nor drums. Moreover, the album was recorded at Studio Dug-Out, notorious for helping fortify a thrash band's sound, and produced by veteran knob-twiddler, Daniel Bergstrand whose previous work includes the Strapping Young Lad and Meshuggah.

Notable tracks on Insanity include "Third," "Impure Perfection" and "Distress" for their go-for-the-throat aggression, "Psychic Pain" for it's amazing beginning, the way the vocals jump from the left to the right speaker, and the crazy solo that Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah contributes. Then tracks like "Inauspicious Coming" and "The Perverted Beast" and the incredibly popular "Hostile Phantasm" which demonstrate Darkane's intelligent use of speed change and control to make songs stand apart from one another. The sick groove at 3:47 of "The Perverted Beast, the insanely melodic (and somewhat incongruous) bridge/solo on and every second of the nearly six minutes of "Hostile Phantasm" (though the last minute is possibly the best) are some of the strongest parts of the album.

In all, Darkane's Insanity is an incredible album with song after song demonstrating the band's unfaltering songwriting ability and quality in execution. One would never guess that during the recording of this disc, problems like burnt out equipment, flooding and even a lightning strike at the recording studio would stand in their way. It just goes to show you that nothing will stand in Darkane's way?this disc is musical perfection, plain and simple. If you doubt this fact, Insanity will surely prove it to you one way or another!

Standout Tracks

   Hostile Phantasm
   Perverted Beast

Peter Johnston