Review Summary: Before a series of tragedies Insanity released a demo that showed the potential they had in that original line-up. This is that demo.
1985? Schwarzenegger was in his prime, Metallica were putting out great albums and thrash was at its peak. Death metal was not even a known quantity at this point. There were a few experimentations though in pushing beyond the boundaries of thrash metal. Insanity was one of those bands that experimented in a form of proto-death metal. Their take though is one that is unique to the genre and still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did back in 1985.
The sound can best be described as Slayer at hyperspeed with far greater technical skill. This demo, only clocking in at just under ten minutes long, contains a whirlwind of riffs, technical solos, banshee-like vocals and incredible drumming that hits like a freight train moving at maximum speed. Opening salvo, ‘Fire Death Fate’ illustrates this point when it begns with a mid-paced galloping riff that explodes into a full-blown frenzy after a brief pause and a shout from Joe DeZuniga. This frenzy, however, belies how fluid the music really is. Transitions between riffs feel unforced and natural and so do the sudden changes of pace that occur throughout. It’s a testament to both the musicianship and the songwriting that none of the songs on this demo feel forced. Indeed all three songs are unerringly catchy with the repeated choruses of ‘Fire Death Fate’ and ‘Blood For Blood’ being the best examples.
All of this is underscored by Bud Mills’ drumming. He propels the demo along at unheard of speeds with a unique style of drumming called a “1/1 beat.” This “1/1 beat” sounds like a precursor to the blast beats pioneered by Pete Sandoval yet they remain distinct and it’s this style that sets this band apart from the pack. Bud Mills’ drumming isn’t limited though and he flawlessly guides the band through the quick tempo changes and provides elegant fills throughout. It cannot be overstated enough that Bud Mills is perhaps one of the most criminally overlooked and underrated death metal drummers of all time.
That seems to sum up Insanity; overlooked and underrated. It’s hard not to see the later influences this band had on the death metal scene; from the screamed vocals, the melodic yet not melodic soloing to the drumming it all seems like bits and pieces that Sandoval and co. took further in their own respective bands. Only in the last few years though does it seem like Insanity is finally getting the credit the band deserves for their pioneering work and at last gain some of the fame that was denied to them due to various tragedies all those decades ago. Even so, the band still remains underrated to this day but this demo is an excellent reminder of why that should not be the case.