Anonymity is a useful tool to promote your music. By removing faces, names, and egos from a project, you allow the music to communicate your message, and if performed properly, it can elevate your art to levels only dreamed of. It can also subject you to ridiculous levels of unicorn-shaming. Shrine of Insanabilis does not believe in identities, Bandcamp pages (which there is one, but it’s sparse with no tracks at the time of writing this here review), Encyclopaedia Metallum entries, or even locations, and here I am with their debut album, Disciples of the Void. So what, you may ask, is keeping me from plunging into the depths of Google to hunt down some images of magically horned stallions?
How about the simple fact that this is a pretty damn good debut album? After a thankfully short, atmospheric, and yet engaging intro in “End All,” we are thrown immediately into the abyss with “Ruina.” Tremolo riffs whip and flail, drums blast and barrel over you, and acidic blackened screams and growls tear at you until the song slows down to a near-Satyricon groove before launching back into the speed and insanity once more. It later slows down yet again to sprinkle some atmosphere into the stew. Not bad at all.
If a comparison is to be made musically, there are hints of Nightbringer (and by proxy, Akhlys) with the aforementioned latter-day Satyricon grooves peppered within. “Cycles and Circles” carves and slices with reckless abandon. “Still of This Earth,” quite possibly the most atmospheric song on Disciples, adds some much needed breathing space about halfway into the song with some arpeggiated clean chords and thick bass picking. Standout track “Invocation” goes for the throat for the song’s first half, with the bass making a huge imprint on your eardrums amid the tremolo guitars and cavernous-yet-relentless drums.
Mixed and mastered by A.O.D. at Temple of Disharmony, Disciples, though loud and lacking in dynamics, still sounds incredible. The bass has that Voivodian distortion while the guitars slash and eviscerate. The drums and vocals are both somewhat cavernous with a bit of echo to them, but it works quite well on this album. Issues keeping Disciples from a higher score are twofold. First, it gets unnecessarily long in the tooth. Remember what I said about the first half of “Invocation” being a standout? Well, the second half isn’t nearly as strong, and it’s over seven minutes in run-length total, with its immediate follow-up, “Still of This Earth” almost ten minutes long. More can be said with less. Also, for as good as a debut album this is, it definitely has the songwriting missteps of a debut. The instrumental “(………..)” could have been omitted to the album’s benefit, and some of the atmospheric parts could be dropped or rewritten to flow better.
Still, this is a very promising start for Shrine of Insanabilis. I’m looking forward to hearing more from them in the future, just as I’m looking forward to not finding out more about them, as the air of mystery works in the band’s favor big time. Also, that David Glomba (Teitanarts) cover is sick. Keep an eye and ear out.