This Dark Reign / Devil Doll

Whew! Incessant, crunching riffing that never lets up, frantic and crazed stomping rawk — that’s the sound of Insense’s debut album in, um, 13 words for you. Crossing Slayer with Faith No More and Refused with Sepultura, Insense offer up a stew of groovy old-school trash and US power metal, blending the new breed of innovative hardcore with a sped-up take on Black Sabbath’s doom and gloom.

Playing compact, grinding metalcore, Insense never offer groove at the altar of technical overkill, attacking every note with a furious snarl, grunting and kicking its way onwards. But while they deserve kudos and cheers for trying to incorporate every hard riff they ever heard, it does at times become a bit too much for most of us — there are only so many churning hooks one can take at any one time.

But obviously, such a complaint would be missing the point completely: Insense are all about smashing your head against the walls, furious slam-dance and turbo-charged aggression. There can’t be enough riffs. This is a brutal and overwhelmingly intense first offering, and one of 2002’s top stomp-along metal albums. Metalcore with a wicked attitude and a bouncy swagger. Draining, exhausting and great stuff.

Devil Doll Records:

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