Whom Gods Destroy - Insanium

Artist: Whom Gods Destroy

Album Title: Insanium

Label: InsideOut Music

Date of Release: 15 March 2024

There are two key reasons why this review comes to fruition a few days after the release of the album itself. Firstly, there was a lot to get to grips with, and I wanted to be able to bring a full, considered, and unrushed review to you all. The second, as it turns out, is that having formulated my thoughts properly, I needed to await the arrival of a bulletproof jacket and helmet before unleashing this review. The thing is, I really don’t understand the hype and the outpouring of love for this record, and I fear the consequences for saying so.

I can understand the clamour when you consider the clientele involved. With the apparent demise of Sons Of Apollo, keyboardist Derek Sherinian and Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal turned their full attention a new band, and Whom Gods Destroy is that band. Joining Sherinian and Bumblefoot are bassist Yas Nomura, drummer Bruno Valverde and vocalist Dino Jelusick, arguably one of the most highly regarded new vocalists in heavy music currently.

It’s an enticing line-up, especially when the band refer to their music on this debut album, ‘Insanium’ as “a mix of melody and intense heavy prog.” On paper, it feels like it’s a new entity that should speak deeply to me and be something of a no-brainer.  

Sometimes, however, the idea and the reality fail to meet in the middle and don’t result in the kind of final product one hopes for. And, unfortunately, that’s the case for me here. I should love it, but I don’t and, for the most part, I’m left feeling cold, frustrated, and disappointed. But, let me be clear, this is not a reflection on the band, and I’m not for a second suggesting that the music on ‘Insanium’ is bad. With the protagonists that are involved, a bad album would be a near impossibility. It’s just that, for several reasons, the chosen output does little to stir up my enthusiasm and have me declaring my undying love for Whom Gods Destroy.

One of the primary reasons for this is, I’m afraid to say, the lead vocals of Dino Jelusick. It’s an admission bound to raise eyebrows in several quarters, but try as I might, I can’t warm to his voice. Again, it’s not that he’s a poor singer because clearly, he’s not. In fact, he has an incredibly powerful set of lungs and it’s obvious that he gives his all behind the mic on this record. At times he sounds a bit like David Coverdale, at others, there’s a little similarity to Russell Allen, whilst there are other fleeting references that I’m unable to grasp. But for some reason, after a while, the singing begins to grate on me. I think it’s that forced sounding grit and constantly aggressive delivery that comes across as just shouting at times. Take ‘Over Again’ as a prime example, where the vocals in the verses feel like they are just spoken, but with attitude and a vague rap-like veneer; personal taste dictates that I’m not a fan. The chorus is better, but it’s nowhere near enough to save the song in my opinion.

Whom Gods Destroy - Insanium

Linked to this, the other primary reason why I struggle with the album is because the compositions feel all too often as if they are merely vehicles for the musicians to showcase how proficient they all are. Yes, I’m well aware that progressive music is often self-indulgent, but it feels just a bit too obvious here. And, importantly, as far as I’m concerned, the compositions suffer as a result. There is a lack of killer moments, of killer songs that I am desperate to return to time and again, and I’m also not a fan of the overt 70s hard rock influences that creep in via certain routes, most potently through the chosen keyboard and synth sounds of Sherinian. Plus, I have to be honest and state that I am not the biggest fan of the chosen guitar tones, as they sound too down tuned and lack ‘something’ for me, which is hard to put my finger on. The only way I can describe it is that the guitars, particularly when delivering the riffs, feel like they lack a certain musicality or warmth, even.

That said, there are a couple of songs that I really do like. And these are the opener, ‘In The Name Of War’ and ‘The Decision’. ‘In The Name Of War’ begins with a dark, theatrical piano intro, before exploding with real intensity and power. The riffs are a blend of muscular heaviness, and complexity, whilst the rhythm section is equally as muscular. The chorus is catchy and vibrant, even if it was something of a grower for me. But it is in the second half of the song where the song hits hardest for me. There’s a switch that’s flipped and the track becomes darker, more foreboding, and I really like this section. It feels more engaging, more cohesive, and I much prefer the vocals at this point, when Jelusick lets his voice soar over the dark soundscape below.

Meanwhile, ‘The Decision’ is by far and away my favourite composition on the album. The opening drum, bass and guitar section is properly prog and mind bending for someone like me who has the musical ability of my dog, the Mutt Of Much Metal. I like the way that it takes it’s time to build, creating a sense of drama leading up to the chorus, the most engaging and enjoyable chorus on the album for my tastes. In fact, it’s a bona fide belter and only makes me wish that there were more like it elsewhere on ‘Insanium’. The solos in the latter half of the song are great, too, and it’s like the band fully clicked on this song and achieved what I had hoped they might.

I will end the review at this point, because I hate being negative and there’s no point belabouring the issue. I feel like I am the only person on the planet who enjoys progressive music that doesn’t love ‘Insanium’, so this one review won’t hurt Whom Gods Destroy or the way that their debut release has been received. I wish I did like it more, and I wish I could sing its praises, but it’s just not destined to be, I’m afraid. Oh well, maybe next time. In the meantime, bear with me whilst I adjust my armour.

The Score of Much Metal: 71%



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