12 July 2010
by Tom Dare
The term “supergroup” has almost become one to avoid. While the occasional project assembled from other highly successful bands has deserved the prefix “super-” – Down and Shrinebuilder being two wildly different examples – many simply plug straight into the lowest common denominator and release depressingly average material. When members of Dimmu Borgir, Napalm Death and others join together to record a death metal record, you hope the result will be impressive, but fear the worst. Thankfully, Insidious Disease’s debut Shadowcast alleviates those fears and does impress. And then tries to scare the shit out of you.
With a line-up including Silenoz and Shane Embury, and including Nile’s beast-behind-the-skins, Tony Laureano, the extreme metal pedigree on show is doubtless. The band declare an aim to play sinister, groove-laden death metal in the best traditions of the old school bands, but with “modern twists and turns” yet without making things too polished, technical or melodic. To a certain extent, this is achieved with aplomb. It is not quite the whole story, however.
Certainly some of the classic death metal bands are referenced with reverence – an evil riff in the vein of Morbid Angel here, a slamming Obituary groove there, a Cannibal Corpse harmonic there, and the occasional whiff of Entombed in one or two of the lead lines. The emphasis is very much more on malevolence than on out-and-out brutality, something which modern bands sometimes overlook. The writing of 240 beats per minute riffs of outrageous technicality may be impressive (and heavier than the bottle bank after an Airbourne show…) but can fail to be as oppressive and twisted as the slower, more traditional constructions Insidious Disease offer. Make no mistake, this is still crushing even before the barbarity of Laureano’s drumming kicks in, but that is a consequence of the music, not the sole character.
The production and guitar tones are rather cleaner than would be the norm in Florida release in the early 90s, but it does achieve the goal of updating the sound, and never has the excessive sheen that can blunt the attack. However, the general feel is very much of a traditional take on death metal produced in a modern way, rather than a record that sits in both worlds. While there is the occasional spray of precision, almost-machine like riffing that marks some of the newer bands, there is nothing like Behemoth’s seemingly effortless ability to straddle both the new and old schools.
Watch the video to ‘Rituals Of Bloodshed’ by Insidious Disease:
While there are some nasty, memorable riffs and some wicked, grotesquely beautiful leads, Shadowcast never quite fells like it will manage to drag itself beyond the realm of good and entertaining and into the kingdom of the great. Even though the deep, brief gloom of album closer ‘Abandonment’ is something rather special, this record never quite exceeds itself the way you feel it could. Perhaps this is because death metal’s recent run of exceptional records is spoiling us. After all, in the past year we have had the unashamedly old-school Ashpyx, the technicality of Nile, the progression of Vader, the immensity of Immolation, Behemoth’s ability to mix old and new and releases from young bands like Dyscarnate and Trigger The Bloodshed. The array of great death metal records around at the moment is stunning, and living up to that may be a near-impossible task.
There is plenty to like about Shadowcast, and it certainly does better than the average supergroup ever threatens to. It does a fine job of recreating what death metal was producing 20 years ago, but doing it in a manner that the modern ear finds more accessible. The drumming is stellar, the vocals suitably horrible, the lead lines wonderfully vile and some of the riffing memorably evil and groove-laden. There’s very little that can be directly criticised, merely a slight feel that you may not be playing it that much six months down the line, however.
Sounds like: Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary
Top tracks: Boundless, Rituals Of Bloodshed, Abandonment
Insidious Disease – Shadowcast tracklisting
Conceived Through Hate
Rituals Of Bloodshed
Value In Flesh