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Leader of evolution from thrash to death! - 100%

oldskullluxi, July 30th, 2009

Tragedy hits some bands harder than others. The death-toll in Cali-based Insanity went up to 2 band members on 14th November 2007 when Insanity´s longtime drummer Bud Mills passed away, suffering from esophagal cancer (stage 4). According to the band´s Myspace site, they are luckily getting back to their feet again, slowly but surely anyway.

CHRONICLES OF THE CURSED by Insanity, is the most luxurious product from a rising Chinese underground metal label AreaDeath Productions / Xmusick League; a 2-CD digibook compilation featuring Insanity´s material from 1985-94 - this including their impossible-to-find DEATH AFTER DEATH album (originally released on M.B.R. Records in 1994), a 4-song re-mastered 8-track recording, the band´s most classic 3-track demo from 1985, many live + rehearsal songs, etc. - basically covering the band´s entire catalog perfectly. Plus, this 36-page hard cover digibook comes with liner notes (written by Exhumed´s Matt Harvey and Napalm Death´s Barney), a long and in-depth interview of Insanity vocalist & guitarist Dave Gorsuch, lyrics written both in English and Chinese - and all this added with tons of killer photos from the band´s past years, some of them being really rare and probably even never published before prior to this fantastic release.

But that´s enough about what this release contains and how it overall looks. What about Insanity´s music then, I am already hearing you whining anxiously? What?! You haven´t heard of Insanity before? Are you kidding me? Oh my, shame on you! Well, let me just say that when Insanity started back in 1985, they were one of the most relentless, vicious and aggressive death/thrash metal bands on the face of the earth. No kidding! In fact, I would say they were right there with bands like Possessed, Hellwitch, Slayer, Exodus, etc. – playing a high-velocity death/thrash metal with such intensity and aggression that absolutely dropped some jaws wide open. The music was pure brilliance in terms of their very well executed and skilfully played songs that got many people to bow in front of them in sheer amazement. Songs like “Blood for Blood”, “Ultimate Death”, “Fire Death Fate” and many other Insanity songs became instant classic numbers among their fans that they always demanded Insanity to play live. For those who never got an opportunity to see the band live, I think it was a very good call from the band to include some of that live material for this luxury compilation CD, just giving a taste of how tight and aggressive they already were when playing live shows back in the day. The sound quality of those live tunes varies quite a lot, but that´s only a minor point because Insanity truly slaughtered live.

However, much like Hellwitch from Florida, US, Insanity never got a chance to take those few, last important steps to bring them to the same league as bands like Possessed or Exodus, but they always stayed more or less as a relatively unknown underground force that somehow missed all opportunities to bring things to the next level. Signing a deal with the German M.B.R. Records wasn´t probably one of their best choices they have made in their whole career, but at least they got their debut album released eventually unlike many of their fellow bands from those days.

CHRONICLES OF THE CURSED is nothing but a mandatory package for every Insanity fan – and actually for everyone else for that matter, who can still appreciate the past times of some of these finest and most talented underground metal bands that quite never made it big for themselves, but whose destiny was to stay as an underground act for their entire lifespan. Get this while you still can because this is limited to 1000 copies only – and probably a very limited die-hard version (a fancy-looking box, limited to 200 copies; including also an Insanity patch, a longsleeve shirt and a button) is already sold out.

Insanity IS Death Metal! - 100%

BassLord, June 17th, 2009

Within seconds of listening to this, I realized that everything I thought I knew about death metal was wrong. There are a lot of arguments about who started the genre and what not, and usually there is a handful of bands that are continuosly mentioned as the forefathers of the genre, but most were simply taking the metal formula and trying to push it into more extreme dimensions. I mean no disrespect to bands like Hellhammer, Death, Massacre, Master and the like, because I love these bands and without a doubt their influence is important and profound. However it can be argued that none of these bands started out as death metal bands, even if that was what they would become. This is where Insanity differs.

I remember the first time I heard Master's unreleased 1985 album. I was blown away not only by the sheer ferocity, but by fact that it was recorded in 1985, as I never thought something so extreme was brewing in America so early. I soon was soon procaliming Master as the true fathers of the death metal. However, I was unaware that during the very same year, Insanity had created a sound completely new to the undergound.

While Master certainly had the speed and brutality, their music was still pretty simple, and at that time they sounded almost like a well developed and more extreme variation on the style that Hellhammer pioneered. This is not the case with Insanity.

The first thing I listened to when I got this great release was the second disk, as I was really curious about the early days of this band. The band's 1985 rehearsal demo certainly was one hell of a beast to be reckoned with. This is easily more extreme than any of the bands Bay Area thrash metal peers, even if many of these bands did have the same influences, Insanity brought the craziness to a whole new level.

Within seconds of "Fire Death Fate", Insanity already displays how far ahead of the game they really were. Most young bands take a while to develop their sound, so the fact that these songs make up their earliest material is astounding. Super fast, ripping riifs that were unlike anything around in those days, or even within the years to come. The riffs really are amazing though, not just for the time they were written, as the sheer ferocity and speed of this band would be unmatched for years to come, and the amount of guitar solos can be dizzying at times. But it's not like the riffs are just faster thrash riffs, some of them are truly progressive, and Im even reminded of bands like modern day Behemoth. These guys knew how to rip through scale after scale, not just chug and thrash.

By employing an early variation of the blast beat, Insanity were able to take thier already above par riffage to a new dimension of brutality. Add to that another rarity in metal back in those days, death vocals! Now these certainly aren't the type of guttural vocals we're used to nowadays, but they are still pretty damn fierce, sounding like a thrash singer who has truely lost his mind. The highs are quite shrieking at times, and the mid range growls are certainly more brutal than anything anybody else was doing yet.

Ok, so I was pretty blown away by the bands 1985 demo, but what about the rest of the music on this two cd set? Actually it's all pretty awesome, as you get the bands entire discography in one package. Although there are 36 songs altogether, most are re-recordings and live versions of Insanity's early songs. But even though you are hearing many of the same songs a few times each, the sound quality differs greatly between each recording, as well as the differeing line-ups.

Chronicles of the Cursed certianly is a fitting name for this set, especially when you read the history of this band. If not for the early death of their original singer guitarist, it's certian this band would be THE major band cited as the founders of the technical death metal style. But their bad luck didn't end there, and the bands original drummer died in 2000. Diespite these constant setbacks however, Insanity still did write some of the best metal music ever, and perhaps with this release they'll get the credit they deserve.

On top of everything else, the packaging of this set is luxurious. It comes in an actual hardcover, bound book, with a protective outer jacket. There is plenty of liner notes to inorm you about the history of the band, and numerous photos. So in conclusion, this release is essential to anyone who wants to know the true roots of death metal, and hear one of America's greatest unsung bands.