Insect Inside is a pretty good punning band name for a band that doesn’t even speak English as their first language. This trio are from Zlatoust, Russia and their debut album, The First Shining of New Genus, is out this week. It’s apparently a concept album about people being devoured by insects. Not that you could tell, of course. The music is death metal at its most primitive, downtuned and pummeling, with absolutely no sense of subtlety or proportion. Feel like getting punched in the face for a half hour? This is your album.
The band consists of Dmitry Borisyuk on vocals, Michail Lukoyanov on guitars and bass, and Daniil Sementsov on drums. “Posthumous Grief,” the “single,” features guest vocals from Kevin Muller of The Merciless Concept. Kirill Nazarov of Disfigurement of Flesh and Decomposition of Entrails (those are two separate bands) appears on “Revival of Ungodly Deformity,” and Roman Vlasenko of Abnormity pops up on the album closer, “Pulsating Earth.” Given the rules of the sonic road, of course, it’s difficult to tell a guest vocalist from the usual guy; Muller has just a slight edge on Borisyuk in terms of comprehensibility, beginning his verse in an almost hardcore shout (it’s possible to make out the words “It is time to break”), but soon enough he’s down in the gutter himself (the rest of the phrase is something like “orrnorr diggorr danoo grorrf”).
The album begins with an ominous intro — sampled throat singing and background drones are mixed with the sounds of flesh and bone being torn apart and chewed up, plus the screams of tortured victims. It’s pretty standard, though the sounds of insects eating…whatever…are a little more disgusting and off-putting than usual, particularly on headphones. Then the first song, “Sickening Ground,” begins and we’re off to the races. This is slamming brutal death metal, and everything a fan of the genre should expect is present: vocals seeming to come from the singer’s lower intestine; downtuned riffs that blend guitar and bass into a seamless chugging blur, each riff punctuated with high-pitched squeals; tiny bell-like cymbal accents to break up the mechanistic pummeling.
When the music is as relentlessly bludgeoning as it is here, every little bit of breathing space registers that much more strongly. So the ten-second bass-and-drum intro that kicks off “Derelict Sanity” is practically prog metal by the standards of the rest of the album. There’s little relief to be found otherwise, though. There aren’t even any guitar solos, just the occasional squeal or sweeping phrase. Sementsov (the band’s founder) is to be praised for the intricacy and lightness of his drumming. He avoids the ultra-programmed-sounding blasts of some other slam metal drummers, instead playing with precision and a surprising amount of airspace; he sounds like a human being planning each strike with care. Listening to him, I feel like he could swing if he wanted to, which is not a claim I’d make about a lot of metal drummers.
This is not an album likely to “cross over” to listeners not already attuned to the virtues and subtleties (yes, there are subtleties) of slamming brutal death metal. But if you’re a fan of the genre, these three Russian kids do it very well indeed.