Album Review: SINSAENUM Repulsion for Humanity
So, current and past members of Dragonforce, Slipknot, Seth, Loudblast, Chimaira, Dååth, Mayhem, Aborym and more—a lot more—walk into a bar and form a band before they hit the floor or the door. And because there’s apparently an unwritten law amongst those who don’t actually play music about what members of what bands are permitted to co-mingle and what the output is allowed to sound like, metal fans of all stripes shit bricks the size of their incredulity upon the airing of the band’s debut LP, Echoes of the Tortured. Still, the ultimate middle finger Sinsaenum gave to detractors came by making Echoes into a pretty damn good record—the overuse of individual song intros notwithstanding.
Being that Sinsaenum is a project cobbled together featuring individuals with full-time bands, jam-packed schedules not to mention all sorts of that "life" stuff going on, it’s a surprise Echoes' follow up has arrived a mere two years later. Although, the first casualty of logistics has come with co-vocalist Attila Csihar’s full schedule relegating him to backing vocals and lyrical contributions on Repulsion for Humanity. The thrust of this project is still Dragonforce bassist Fred Leclercq picking up a guitar and indulging his love of death metal alongside another not-so-closeted fan of the genre in Joey Jordison. Given that Leclercq writes, contributes and plays the energy drink power metal his day job is known for, you’d have to expect his exploration of the darker side to employ a hummable edge in combination with nascent brutality.
You can hear it in the light speed first half and lurching two-step of the album’s title track opener. You can hear in the half-time ragers “Final Resolve” and “I Stand Alone” with their Domination-era Morbid Angel churn, traditional metal soloing and choruses that border on sing-a-long. You can hear it in the almost punk rock chord jumping during the first half of “Sacred Martyr” and when the song’s second half kicks into a style of thrash as tendered by a young Metallica and Slayer, the band keeps the hooks alive with Dååth vocalist Sean Zatorsky providing the fist-raising anthemics.
That infectiousness exists even when they bear down on the gas pedal and shift tempos into high gear during “Rise of the Light Bearer.” It's a song that runs the gamut from high brow continental blackened thrash and sidewinding mid-pace mosh to smoking jacket doom with meat ‘n’ potatoes soloing to create a track dripping with dynamics and catchy enough phrasing to prevent it from going out the other ear when it goes in one.
But as the album plays deeper, an aching disappointment reveals itself. This comes in the form of too many songs not distinguishing themselves enough with individuated riffs. The segments and sequences are very clear-cut and dry – death metal riff, black metal motif, doomy section, killer classic metal soloing, etc. – but too much of the album simply and safely play out those subgenres instead of grabbing them by the throat to make a defining statement.
Too often, and especially during the final third of the album, the band is disseminating segmented detritus without creating a collection of riffs and songs that will stand the test of time as a totality. Their stab at slow-motion death doom (“Manifestation of Ignorance” and “My Swan Song”) is too spacious. A lack of density in the former makes it sound embarrassingly empty and weak, though the latter does fart up the tempo to sound like something from Cradle of Filth’s repertoire after trundle through minor key melodies that give it a slightly less pretentious and slightly more ballsy My Dying Bride air. Slightly.
Whether this is ultimately the result of the fragmented nature of a band with members spread out over different locales who have other priorities and not Sinsaenum as the main focus, who knows. But repeated listens have the pastiche that is Repulsion for Humanity unraveling at a discouragingly rapid rate.