Insense, "Soothing Torture"
Hailing from the cold Norwegian city of Oslo, Insense has a surprisingly un-black metal sound, despite coming from the frozen tundra that has spawned forth so many vile-spewing bands before. Combining sparsely-used clean singing alongside chunky, thrash influenced guitar rhythms, resulting in a thrash metal / hard rock hybrid. According to the band, Insense, on its second release, Soothing Torture has dropped off a bit of the previous record's technicality and has doubled the brutality in its absence. By no means the heaviest record out of Norway, or stateside for that matter, Soothing Torture still comes off as a successful venture in the melodic metal underworld.
The clean vocal passages and haunting, background guitar melodies of "I, Deviant" work surprisingly well and come off as a change of pace three tracks in on the record. I never thought I'd say it about a contemporary metal band, but Insense succeeds most when incorporating cleanly sung lyrics, with "The Forgiving Embrace" being another noteworthy track that is both memorably melodic and heavy-hitting. On "Fallout," though, the clean melodies don't work nearly as well. On the harsher tracks, Insense comes off ahead of the pack as well. The title track screams forward head first with neo-thrash speed alongside Meshuggah tone until it falls prey to slowly grinding guitars just a halfstep away from being a breakdown.
Overall, Soothing Torture is a hard-hitting record that really only falters when the band falls into a slower paced lull from time to time on a few tracks. Notch up the intensity a bit on the backside of the record, and Insense could step right into an as yet-unviolated by hairspray and breakdowns niche of the modern metal world.
The Forgiving Embrace