(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by the multinational collective Sinsaenum, which was released last month.)
Sinsaenum is a weird band, in the sense that I think supergroups usually end up being failures, but Sinsaenum are not. The music they write is good, but they also serve as a case study for one of the bigger problems that comes from forming a supergroup in the extreme metal world: When the membership of a supergroup is diverse, and when efforts are made for each member’s background to be represented sonically, that can lead to albums that are… fragmented, to say the least.
Sinsaenum, the brainchild of Joey Jordison and Frédéric Leclercq, boasts alumni and current members of Dragonforce, Mayhem, Dååth, and Slipknot, just to rattle off the big names, and their new album sounds like they don’t know what they want to be, even if the resulting product is still in my mind fairly excellent.
The thing is, even the fragmented, stylistically inconsistent nature of Repulsion For Humanity isn’t even consistent. Among the various pure death metal metal, pure black metal, and straight-up groove and nu-metal-bordering tracks on the album, there is a blackened death metal mix on songs in the latter part of the album that very distinctly stands out, and sounds like something the band could make an identity out of. I enjoy all of this album, but I have no doubt that many people will have a hard time finding a baseline to dial into. If there is one, it’s on those latter tracks.
The album’s opener, the title track, is a cathartic slice of chaotic tremolo and low-tuned grooving death metal that brings to mind the best of Deicide and Aeon. The riffs are on point, with definitive hooks communicated via tons of blasts, skank beats, and fast technical riffs. This is what makes the transition into the equally excellent but completely contrasting “Final Resolve” really weird. It’s a pure, unashamed slice of Pantera-esque groove-based barbarism. While it has a pretty proggy solo section that calls Byzantine to mind, it is very shrouded in the musical background where Joey Jordison and Sean Z came from, in Slipknot and Dååth. While everything about this song is excellent, no one would fault you for thinking you’re listening to a whole new band just two songs into an album.
“Sworn To Hell” pulls the rug out from you, AGAIN, this time with a fully fledged black metal song, perhaps influenced by the presence of Attila of Mayhem in the band, even though he apparently did not directly participate in the recording of this album. Not only is it another jarring stylistic turn, the guitars are now tuned higher to accommodate the style of the song. Everything about the record up to this point is enjoyable but there’s still no musical foundation at all to sink your teeth into.
“I Stand Alone” is once again ANOTHER stylistic turn to a jarring extent, a straight-up New Wave Of American Metal song with a strong Chimaira vibe to it that even implements the nu-metal soft-verse, heavy-chorus formula.
And so the opening salvo of tracks hits four entirely different metallic beats with nothing connecting them. It’s definitely odd, but what’s weirder is how the album comes together in its latter half to establish more of a solid idea of what Sinsaenum actually is, or could be. It verges on this again in the fifth song, “The Rise Of The Light Bearer”, which boasts a very Vader-meets-Death vibe that, while once again excellent on its own, entirely clashes with the musical precedents set before it.
The thing is, the latter half of this album, with a restructuring, would make an excellent EP to which people would more likely be more receptive. Tracks six to eleven develop a brand of hyper-aggressive blackened death metal that’s also unafraid to adopt some strong doom elements. The album really picks up speed at this point, and the stylistic consistency to drive a record is there. What they have going here is refreshing; it has a unique vibe; and the composition is excellent.
“Manifestation Of Ignorance” is one of the best doom-death songs I’ve heard in a long time. The riffs are bleak and ugly and the melodies are mournful and twisted. The vocals melds really well to create the sort of unsettling vibe the song is going for. The powerful, frantic, Deicide-styled explosion of speed and blasphemous tremolo-picked riffs serve as a nice dynamic alteration in the middle, but the doom aesthetic of the song is definitely what sells it up front.
“Sacred Martyr” comes off as a greatest-hits mix of Kataklysm and Aeon with a hardcore beatdown aesthetic that’s pretty rad. A killer main riff and a nice tempo change into some frantic technical riffing at a fast-as-fuck pace makes that song pretty grade A.
“My Swan Song” is one of my absolute favorite tracks on this record and one of the best, a straight-up blackened death metal song at a war march pace, a sprawling eight minutes of just simple, effective, bleak melodies and atmosphere. “Nuit Noire” is also an excellent example of this more focused blackened death metal sound, featuring dissonant, sinister riffing, lots of tempo changes, and an overall dedication to an oppressively bleak and feral sound. I won’t go over the final two tracks, “Insects” and “Forsaken”, but the quality lines up with what I’ve already described.
I do personally enjoy how stylistically diverse this record is. Repulsion For Humanity almost feels like a love letter to extreme metal in general rather than an attempt at a focused sound. However, I just can’t deny that the more focused and cohesive back-end of this record is superior to how it opens. Opinions on this record will likely be mixed, and I’ve already seen lots of mixed opinions on it, but I don’t think you could legitimately call it anything other than musically excellent, identity crisis or not.
Repulsion For Humanity is one of my favorite records of the year. It might be one of yours, if you can accept it for what it is.