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Inside the Maze of Madness - 92%

Violent_Solutions, May 13th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, Digital, Redefining Darkness Records

I stumbled upon my fellow countrymen by accident and didn't even knew they're from Belgium at the time. So no chauvinism was in play when I started digging them early on. I must say I like(d) the EP, but I wasn't blown away by it, like some other people were. But it certaintly put them out there. They started writing soon after the EP on a Full Length and that was the element that kept them going. No long pause that would lead up to people just forgetting about them, except for some 'die hards'.

Ok, let's get started then. My favourite track must be Monolith, it's super tight, well actually a lot of songs on this one are, but this one for me stands out. Fast riffing and a captivating chorus really got me hooked. Also sceaming along to "Cryptic storms of evil, erasing sanity" is vastly satisfying! Two other tracks are also fighting for the top position, those are Souls Of Retribution and Inside the Walls of Madness. Those two are both lenghty and have superb songwriting. I must admit I'm a fan of technical thrash and death, so that makes me really fond of the songwriting on this hell of an album. The 'intros' in some songs are really welcome as a 'pause' from all the brutal pounding and also benefit the album, instead of making the album unnecessary longer. For instance the intro from Fall of the Damned adds extra atmosphere to the song.

The song I tend to skip is Sea of Sorrow, not a bad song, not at all, but it doesn't 'get' me as much as the other songs do. Look out, this could change, since I tend to change my favourite song on an album from time to time. Another mishap is the misfortune of the vinyl pressings. Keeps on being delayed, but I hope they'll be arriving somewhere soon. I must say the advertising for this album has been good, 2 videos were made. A lot of gigs and a small tour with (some of my other Benelux favourites) Cryptosis helped them promote their name even more. I saw the album passing by on socials and they made some guitar playthrough videos, not really my kind of thing, but hey, content is better than no content.

After all, I give this album 92%, I actually think this is a modern day classic, especially along all the dredge that's being released under the guise of death/thrash nowadays. I also think this is an improvement comparing to Voices. The vocals are better sounding for me personal and the song structures are much improved. If you like old skool death metal releases from the early Tampa scene alongside some of the more aggressive death/thrash bands like Demoltion Hammer, Incubus, Ripping Corpse you'll surely love this!

One brutal stup forward - 89%

spookymicha666, February 21st, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, Digital, Redefining Darkness Records

After their very appealing EP Voices in 2020 which I highly appreciated the quartet hailing from Belgium will finally release their first full-length album Recollections Of The Insane in February. While you could hear some good old-school thrash with slight death metal influences on the EP, the guys must have experienced some very bad things in the last two years because now they sound much more aggressive than on Voices.

First of all, the guitar work is much more death metal based – they are tuned down and you cannot find those Demolition Hammer or Sepultura-like riffs anymore. They sound much more like some guys originated in Florida (I won't do any malevolent name creations here though) and I have to say that I didn't expect such a change. Vocalist Ricky Mandozzi is shouting in the same way as he did on Voices though, but he sounds much more aggressive and a lot fresher. He uses more “Uuuugh”-shouting so that my impression that they want to go more into death metal is strengthened, too. They left the path of playing very groovy catchy parts most of the time but increased the tempo and are really blasting through their tracks. Okay, here and there you still have the nice thrashy parts like in 'Sea Of Sorrow' but most of the time it is just a death metal onslaught.

I have to confess that it took me some time to get into this new direction of Schizophrenia but after some listening to Recollections Of The Insane I have to admit that I like this album very much. I would compare their career to the guys from Skeletal Remains who became more and more uncompromising with each album. The production is really well done, a very clear sound with well-balanced bass tunes and I would say that this is exactly the rich production a death metal album needs. The most outstanding tracks in my opinion are 'Fall Of The Damned' which starts with a very dark intro and convinces with nice breaks and some hellish speed in the middle part of it, 'Cranial Disintegration' because it has some very catchy parts and a really great solo in it and the already mentioned 'Sea Of Sorrow'. 'Onwards Into Fire' and 'Souls Of Retribution' show a more technical skilled side of the band, especially 'SOR' gets me back to the early 90s atheistic feelings I had back then. The brutality is still to find in those songs, but they have decreased the tempo at some point.

I would really like to recommend this album to you if you like old-school death metal without any knickknack. If you liked their first EP you may be surprised about the differences but you should give it a chance nevertheless! It's one of these albums that grow with the time!

Rating: 8.9 out of 10 Belgian chocolates

Originally written for metalbite.com

Between imitation and brutality - 84%

gasmask_colostomy, February 18th, 2022

If you’re a death thrash fan, I think you’d be mad not to associate the name Schizophrenia with Sepultura, seeing as how that 1987 record brought the Brazilians into the spotlight before they later signed with Roadrunner. It also happens to be one of the thrash albums that set out the more vicious sides of the genre using mainly traditional tools, sort of how the Germans were doing at a similar time. These Belgians certainly like Sepultura and Sodom and a bit of Demolition Hammer for good luck, since their whole vibe – sound, logo, looks – harks back to that era of hard thrash at the very tail end of the ‘80s. After a pretty well-received EP release of Voices, the quartet have just now put together their debut full-length, even after over a decade together as a band (as Hämmerhead until 2016). As expected, Recollections of the Insane hits hard, fast, and admirably revisits those heady early days of death thrash.

Things go right for Schizophrenia in several quarters. Initially, they have their chops together, as shown by the ability to go full-on with double bass drumming and lightning fast riffing or touch songs with nuance, while the praiseworthy mixing of the album delivers balance and impact from all instruments. The extra percussive edge and tricky tremolo segments that kick off 'Monolith' explain why I have to preface the word thrash with death most of the time, but it’s the blastbeat ambushes further into the same cut that drives home just how much of a gap one can actually explore between the heaviest reaches of Sepultura and the more punishing brutality of Solstice or Sadus. However, Schizophrenia approach the genre division in a manner that leaves the 9 songs with various kinds of character, 'Cranial Disintegration' bearing all the most thrashy rhythmic staples and 'Onwards to Fire' taking on more of an epic feel that touches on the melodic side of Death and the early Skeletonwitch style. All this without the vocals changing much at all, Ricky Mandozzi reminding me strongly of a number of singers, not least Legion (ex-Marduk, ex-Witchery), with his forceful barked growl.

Another very positive facet to experiencing Recollections of the Insane lies in the songwriting. At close to 5 minutes apiece the songs progress through a number of changes in direction and intensity, quite often adding in little detours to regular structure in order to keep the listener guessing. The frequency and thoroughness of the guitar solos offer a great help in this capacity, appearing unexpectedly and then colouring the enraged riffing with more atmospheric tones and details, something immensely useful for adding a new dimension to a raging number like 'Inside the Walls of Madness' yet also welcome in the textured explorations of 'Sea of Sorrow'. The aforementioned 'Onwards to Fire' runs longest at 6 minutes and packs in the expected amount of surprises, excelling in lead guitar avenues off the main composition and an overarching momentum that rivals the quicker cuts. I feel it’s high praise indeed not to be saying of Schizophrenia, “The songs are very consistent but that’s what death thrash fans want,” because the four-piece do take risks and benefit from them more often than not. In a manner, I can almost choose to overlook the more conventional yet massively effective likes of 'Divine Immolation'.

Therefore, my first impression of Schizophrenia as skilled imitators may require some revising. Recollections of the Insane might remind nostalgic listeners of that extreme metal incubation period, but the thinking belongs to a more recent time and its effects should be felt with or without the donning of rose-tinted glasses. Some of the album’s scope reflects the application of more modern studio techniques and atmospheric tricks, expanding the appeal without becoming either populist or progressive. As such, Schizophrenia sit in a niche that contains just enough extremity, just enough melody, even enough hooks (try telling me that 'Inside the Walls of Madness' isn’t catchy) to please most listeners on the fence about thrash and its heavier forms. Hopefully they will go on from this debut to do even more good for the sub-genre.


Originally written for The Metal Observer - http://www.metal-observer.com/3.o/review/schizophrenia-recollections-of-the-insane/