They say good things comes to those who wait. I’m not sure who “they” are in this situation – You? The silent cabal of shadow and influence puppeting our every step? The burger people? – but “they” are certainly shooting too low. If my band devoted nine years of blood, spit, and shit to a debut release, good wouldn’t be good enough. Thusly, we enter Transition. Dissatisfaction courses through the ranks of AMG’s death metal connoisseurs; a recent dearth of quality old school death metal offers Inisans a chance to catch their eye. It’s up to the Swedes to snatch the brass ring.
With a penetrating drum roll, “Tombstone” snaps idyllic spring reverie like a sudden bark of machine gun fire. The harrowing guitar riffs could snap a puppy’s neck with a glance, melding traceable leads and early Grave-minded chaos with the pulsing deformity that you might expect from Archgoat and their blasphemous ilk. David Halonen’s cavernous gutturals echo low in an already deep-seated production, the perfect canvas for tight-as-a-vise riffs to deface with their occasional glints of clarity. The touch of solowork, though just the squeals and wheels of an early death metal menagerie, doesn’t hurt, though most songs won’t bother even with that. Inisans‘ motto seems to be if it doesn’t riff, you must omit. This amorphous mass might seem an unwieldy behemoth, but Inisans helm “Tombstone” and Vader-tinged follow-up “Beyond the Gates” with a riff-centricity that even the stuffiest of the death metal elite cannot deny.
The ugly production – those poor drums – enhances the old-school feel, but Inisans do not settle on one consistent approach. The blackening of “Darkness Profound” – a trend that grows stronger as the record marches on – and profoundly urgent finale “Void Walker” place their best efforts in their marvelous beginnings. But when the guitars drop into thick death stew for the rest of the track, they drag a certain intangible down with them. The record does not fall to pieces, but Inisans‘ beefy haymakers simply lack the impact of their opening jabs. The best tracks, “Void Walker” in particular, increase their standing by revisiting that first shot later on. “Demon Wings,” with its Cannibal Corpse halts, suffers no such issue, but only as its down-tempo skulduggery entombs you in an unmarked grave after its initial salvo of cinder-block pummeling.
At just under thirty minutes, Transition aches for a couple more tracks, even if only for another few minutes of the shrill tremolos of “Jaws.” The casual black elements that sneak on-board bolster death metal already strong in its own right. The pissed-from-a-distance motif grates after a fashion, so it’s possible that Inisans intentionally kept the record tight to mitigate this fatigue. But as a side effect, Pontus Pettersson-Gull’s kit also operates from a distance: a great, great distance, as if from another dimension where drums are like the bass of death metal. They’ve got more definition than the bass (like that’s saying much), but most often manifest in a vague thumping and the weird tambourine shimmers of the cymbals. Past that opening drum roll, they’re neutered to the point of inefficacy.
Pillorying OSDM for what could be termed a classic production might overly harsh, but in reality the production doesn’t hurt as much as all that. The clearly manifested components meet a higher standard than those embedded in the mix (at least to these saccharine-tuned ears). But if what matters to you is the riffs, Inisans rarely disappoint. Whereas many “solid” debuts feel like a best-case scenario, a well-executed, low-ceiling sound with no real legs, Transition feels quite the opposite. The potential for success is the big takeaway here. Despite the time already invested, Transition is still only a first try, and it’s a good one. Inisans‘ second album will be one to watch, no matter how long it takes to produce.