Monday, May 13, 2019

Insanity Alert - Insanity Alert (2014)

You won't even need a second glance at the cover of this Austrian band's eponymous debut to know what they're all about. The D.R.I. shirt and vest, the bent up hat, the straightjacket, all of the violent moshing and tearing up the town... Clearly we've got a party thrash crossover band from overseas, forming at around the same time they'd be inspired just as much by other nostalgia-fueled acts like Municipal Waste as the originators of the style back in the 80s. Sure enough, Insanity Alert comes complete with goofy ass lyrics about zombies, weed, beer, skateboarding, and most importantly, THRASH ITSELF. Because honestly we wouldn't have had any idea otherwise that this is exactly the sort of music they intend to celebrate and rub your nose in repeatedly.

Now, to be fair, while I've often found this approach to thrash metal to be rather disposable and laconic whenever bands other than Tankard do it, Insanity Alert realizes the low bar of its thrash ambitions with a pretty hefty, exciting riff-set. Sure, if you've spent the last 30 years listening to groups like Nuclear Assault, Anthrax, Hirax, Exodus, Vio-Lence, Cryptic Slaughter, D.R.I. and so forth, or the more recent proxies of this sound like Iron Reagan, Gama Bomb and Municipal Waste, then this is nothing unexpected and a lot of the rhythm guitar patterns are predictable, but even with that in mind they are explosive enough with their hooks to have you smiling. The mix on the album is quite good, with clear, cutting guitars, peppy drums, and even some solid bass tones when that instrument is given some breath of its own, although generally it sits comfortably behind the rhythm guitars doing little to stand out. Vocally you know what to expect here, a bit of splatter thrash, some gang vocals, and a lot of lines that sound strikingly like John Connelly only with a little less of the genuine vitriol, but in general they move by so blazingly fast and frenzied that they get the job done and will satisfy what the diehards for this niche crave.

There's a little bit of an excess to the cheese here, literally on "Macaroni Maniac", not the first and not the last thrash anthem for the layman's comfort food (thanks Annihilator), and tunes about getting wasted and smoking up are a dime a dozen, but once in awhile they had a slightly more fun topic in there like "Arac Attack" about spiders, or "Flamethrower". I mean this is two topping pizza thrash and both of the toppings are cheese. The band make a good use of a few samples, especially as an intro to the album closer, their dorky cover of "Run to the Hills", which they have dubbed "Run to the Pit", because man you can't have thrash metal without talking about MOSHING, and THRASH METAL. M I Rite? Nevermind that the many of the greatest albums of the genre did neither and could be taken somewhat, or completely, we've gotta keep those keywords in there lest our audience forget somehow that's what we were on about. A little bit too self-aware for me.

Regardless, the only song here I thought was actually dumb musically was "Blunt In/Blunt Out" for its dumb Southern heavy rock grooves that sound pretty weak alongside the Austrians' more frenetic fare. The rest are perfectly passable for the style, with "The Claw (Of All That is Evil)" actually being quite awesome, and others like the hardcore-infused "Shit for Brains" and "Crucified by Zombies" passing muster. The lyrics are beyond stupid, at one point I think they even paraphrased Snoop Dogg or whatever he's called now, but if you're listening to pizza thrash like this to garner some sort of important social message or intellectual stimulation you've come to the wrong place. Or maybe the right place. Either way, while Insanity Alert doesn't quite distinguish itself from better records by Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan, or their like, it's actually fun enough to recommend about 13 of the 15 brief, fast-paced tracks to those who live lives full of bong hits and mosh pits, or those of us who wish we could. Assuming you don't have Zombie Attack, Survive or Hazardous Mutation at the ready.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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