It's time for our 35th monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and for the first time since we started formally reviewing local metal albums on the site, we're looking at Sault Michigan albums in conescutive months! This month's review is for the self-titled digital album independently (and posthumously) released by the defunct local death metal band Insipid Brutality, which was posted on the band's new BandCamp page on April 23rd for digital download. Recorded during the band's heyday between 2006 & 2008 in nearby Kinross, Michigan, the recordings that make up this album were later restored by Kyle Van Howe and packaged for sale & download online, which is really cool of the band's alumni to do! Insipid Brutality are represented on this album by singer Teagan Sanders, guitarists Tyler Dettloff (Teagan's former Condemned bandmate, and now of the Marquette rock band Midnight Manual) and Scott Savoie (ex-Swayze Train), bassist Louie Schmit, and drummer Mat Georgevich. This album is currently available at this location for download under a "name your price" model, meaning you can either download it free or pay any amount you wish, but I highly recommend paying for it in some form! (Updated on November 8th)
Note that three of the songs on "Insipid Brutality" can also be streamed on their old MySpace page, though the quality is less than on the album. With 9 tracks clocking in at around 54 minutes of music, let's kick off this review with the first song, "Demoness"! One of two 9 minute+ tracks on this album, it fades into some solid guitar riffing and a medium paced metal assault, with some effective (though very loud) growling from Teagan Sanders, and he definitely has skill at growling! Could stand to be a bit clearer though. The guitar work is nice early, with Tyler & Scott unloading some solid licks and varied tempos without getting too repetitive, but Teagan's vocals over the guitar solos are out of place, especially on the first one. Mat's drumming is good too, but I wish it was louder in the mix, same for Louie's bass playing. I like what I'm hearing for Insipid Brutality's talent & intensity, but this song's biggest problem is it's far too long, and it feels like they stretched out "Demoness" far beyond where it should have been. If cropped to around 5 minutes, I think it'd correct some of it's issues, but beyond that and the recording quality, it's a solid death metal original that shows Insipid Brutality's "insipid brutality"well!
Second is "Lucifer", which leads off with a softer guitar opening before the full instruments kick in, including a nice use of pinch harmonics, though the timing isn't flawless. The build into the first verse is a slow progression, but when the first verse begins, they're playing at a heavy and aggressive level with solid vocals, and the guitar solo midway through is also well done, if deliberate! Teagan's singing improves on "Demoness" with less unneeded interjections and a pseudo-scream later on, and the drumming also stands out here! I'd have liked to have seen the guitar solo a bit later in the track, and the ending was scratchier than it should have been, but "Lucifer" is a definite improvement and has some nice diversity all around! That's followed by "Grim Demise", the first album track previously posted on their MySpace page, and if you compare the audio, the improvements are clear for the remastered quality! The start & stop intro in the first minute is overdone, but when the actual song launches, some nice melodic guitar work & solidly loud drumming help lead to some fast and easily moshable intensity! Teagan's singing continues to serve the song better here, and the middle section on "Grim Demise" is fairly catchy with nice pacing! The return of the stop-start riffing at the end drags the song a bit, and the more varied drumming doesn't really spice it up either. If you cut the opening & ending in half even, "Grim Demise" would sound even better, but it's another good track regardless!
Fourth on "Insipid Brutality" is "Splattered Remnants", and after a softer guitar intro, the song itself begins with a slow but well played opening section with solid bass work from Louie Schmit before getting heavy in a Slayer-esque fashion with brutal riffing and some very blackened growling from Teagan that black metal fans should enjoy more! The early guitar solo is really good too, and at it's peak, this song does have an assaulting heaviness, but the last minute of the song brings things to a slower deliberate pace that has a doomier quality, only hampered by a very abrupt ending. Couldn't they have faded it out in post? That aside, this is one of the better early tracks on the album, and it's mix of metal subgenres is welcomed! Then, we have the album's shortest song, "Crucifix", which immediately leads off with some solid growling and a nice scream laid over the instruments, which are badly downtuned in the mix on this track, a problem which was on the original MySpace copy of this song too. As a showcase for Teagan's vocals, it's great, and I like his added screams and black metal tinges, but the rest of the band are way too quiet, especially with some nice fast riffing from Tyler & Scott sounding buried. I enjoy this track, but it wasn't the best recorded to benefit each member of the included songs.
Track number 6 is "Blood of the Covenant", which initially takes on a clear black metal vibe with it's galloping sound and higher pitched vocals, but the song switches between black and death vocals often early. The volumes of the band members are more equal on this track, and I like the drumming from Mat Georgevich on this song especially, along with the variance in sounds and styles that Insipid Brutality use and switch between! The guitar solo (in a more normal place here) is shorter than I'd like though, and while they do try a lot of styles and sounds, there isn't as much of a clear direction as on some earlier songs on this album. Solidly heavy and brutal track though, and never boring! It's followed by "Reaper", which has a nice ominous high guitar intro (which holds too long) before unloading into a low death metal track that again suffers from quiet instrumentation. It's not as bad as "Crucifix", but there's still a muted quality even when I turn my volume up. Though, like "Grim Demise", the similar start & end riffs get repetitive, it's not as bad as the center of "Reaper", which feels more redundant than a song of this heaviness probably should. That said, it's still a hard charging track with nice bass work, so it's a quality late song on the Insipid Brutality album!
The album's penultimate song, "Beaten Into A Stain", is also it's longest (at 9:20), but does the length work to the song's advantage? It starts very slowly and is definitely the album's slowest song yet, while still being heavy, though the vocals are fairly quiet and buried into the music until it begins to build steam a minute in. Honestly, this song was starting to drag by the end of the first half which says more for the intended length then their talents. The guitar work was actually pretty catchy, and Mat's drumming's on form early, but when the song picks up in speed midway through, it's like a long needed adrenaline shot. The intensity and speed fluctuates in the second half, but the brutal growling and nice guitar riffs and melodies are constants, and they help keep interest and engagement in such a long track. If the first half were chopped down, I'd rank this higher, but Insipid Brutality didn't do bad on this song at all, and it shows a lot of their range!
The album ends with "Insipid Hell", and while the original opening was removed, it now starts in very brutal and fast fashion! That said, the vocals are very poorly recorded here, and it sounds like background noise whenever Teagan sings on both the new and MySpace copies of this song, which is a shame given the clarity & focus on some earlier songs. I know you can only do so much with a song that's already recorded, but if it can't live up to the recording quality of other songs, why include it? That said, the instrumental work is pretty good, and there's some nice drum work and catchy guitar leads, but the quality issues do numb some of the instrumental impact as well. It's definitely a good and well written death metal song, but as an album capper, the recording quality deficiencies don't do it justice at all. That said, how do I grade Insipid Brutality's posthumous album? I have to say first that I admire what Tyler Dettloff has done to bring the band and material back from the dead (so to speak), and I'd love to see more local bands release old material & unreleased albums posthumously like this! Though younger, the guys show nice talent levels on this album, including very brutal growling from Teagan Sanders, solid guitar riffs and solos from Tyler & Scott Savoie, and Louie Schmit & Mat Georgevich handled the low end & rhythm equally well themselves!
Songs like "Lucifer", "Splattered Remnants", and "Beaten Into A Stain" are among some of the better written originals, but they (and the other tracks) suffer for one big reason: I don't believe these recordings were originally intended to be on an album. While Kyle Van Howe did a great job improving the audio quality on these songs, you can tell that they are live demo recordings that were intended to be only that in the mid-2000s, and the album release was a later decision using previously recorded live tracks. As such, the quality & volume widely varies, especially on vocals, which range from too loud ("Crucifix") to almost inaudible ("Insipid Hell".) As well, there are other flaws, like repetition and drawn out material, downtuned bass, some occasional flubs mid-song, and less guitar solos then I'd personally like, but I find that for "Insipid Brutality", you need to look at it on a different scale then other local metal albums. For what this is, it's a nice collection of death metal originals from one of the area's heaviest bands in the mid-2000s, with improved audio from what was previously available, and if you can get past the recording quality, black and death metal fans should be able to find a lot to like from Insipid Brutality's album! Buy it A.S.A.P. at the above links, and maybe they'll reunite down the road!
I hope you guys like this month's CD review, but what's coming up in June? Like this month, I'm not entirely sure, as nothing brand new is waiting for a review from a local metal/hard rock band at the moment. All I can guarantee is that, like last month, Foothill Road's live CD or of anything by Sykotyk Rampage or Woods of Ypres will NOT be our next CD reviews on the site, as it's still too soon from our last reviews of theirs (but Foothill Road could be as soon as July depending on different factors.) If nothing new from a local metal band comes out by June 30th (and stay tuned for all that could be next in Saturday's next "Where Are The New Albums" post), we'll dip into the archives, but could we look at Aftersight's album? Candle Hour's? The Harsh Heads'? Detroit's first demo? An archive Mike Haggith album? Something I don't have yet, like an early As It Stands EP? The Amethyst or Proposition 86 cassettes? Infrastrate's EP? Something else entirely? Time will tell, so stay tuned for updates, along with my review of TONIGHT'S 44th Rosie metal night tomorrow! Thanks everyone!