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Album Review: WHOM GODS DESTORY Insanium

6 Reviewer

Progressive metal newcomers Whom Gods Destroy arrive with an esteemed cast of established talent. After all, the quintet is comprised of vocalist Dino Jelusick (Whitesnake, Trans-Siberian Orchestra); keyboardist Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater, ex-Sons Of Apollo); guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex-Sons Of Apollo, solo); bassist Yas Nomura (The Resonance Project); and drummer Bruno Valverde (Angra). Rather than appear as "a new force" in the genre (as their press release declares), however, their debut LP – Insanium – finds them largely relying on by-the-numbers techniques and timbres. It's not a terrible record by any means, but it is disappointingly predictable and familiar.

Given that two members were previously in Sons Of Apollo, this overreliance on obvious hard rock/progressive metal tropes isn't too surprising (To be fair, Sons Of Apollo were always open about their intentions, and fans always knew what to expect.) In explaining which artists influenced Insanium, Sherinian reflects: "The inspiration is wide for this band. We cover a lot of ground stylistically, everything from Led Zeppelin, Meshuggah to Muse, to the most technical prog."  Those connections come through clearly in the music – and Whom Gods Destroy nail what they're going for – but there's almost nothing adventurous or fresh here.

There are some relatively engaging and creative moments scattered around Insanium's nearly hour-long duration. For instance, "The Decision" is slightly above average due to its effectively moody arrangements, pleasant vocal harmonies, and undeniably engaging melodies. It's nothing artists such as Symphony X haven't done before, but it's easily commendable all the same. Likewise, "Keeper of the Gate" throws in some interestingly off-kilter rhythms and epic solos, just as the style-splicing torrent of "Insanium" is attractively dynamic and multifaceted.

That said, those tracks stand out purely because they contain a minimal amount of innovation and intrigue. The rest of the LP is as run-of-the-mill as you can imagine, starting with opener "In the Name of War," a testosterone-fueled commentary on death, conflict, and division that never rises above its surface-level appeal. As with the rest of the record, it's done well, but it's not doing anything metal fans haven't heard hundreds of times before.

From there, "Over Again" and "Crucifer" are particularly gruff and frenetic versions of that formula, whereas "Crawl" and "Requiem" are marginally calmer and more pensive. True, redemptive ballad "Find My Way Back" and hyperactive instrumental "Hypernova 158" offer small changes of pace, but they're the exact kinds of changes of pace that so many albums like this feature.

Insanium is a perfectly decent attempt at capturing the lowest common denominators of its genre(s). If that's all Whom Gods Destroy are going for, they succeeded, but as previously mentioned, they're aiming for higher and failing as a result. In fact, there's barely any more humanity and resourcefulness to it than what would result from asking an A.I. to "create a hard rock/progressive metal album." If that's something listeners are interested in, more power to them, but anyone looking for anything beyond that should look elsewhere.

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