Instorm – Psycho Violence


Moscow quartet, Instorm, formed in 2011 and released their debut album in 2013. Their latest record is their third offering and first since the disruption of Covid-19 ripped a hole through the music industry in the dark days of 2020. Centred around the guitars and vocals of Roman Nemtsev, the group also features the talents of Polyana Archangelskaia of blackened death metal favourites, Renunciation, on the drum stool. If you haven’t heard Instorm, you’re in for a whirlwind of virtuoso musicianship and drama. This is neo-classical death metal with the pomp of traditional metal and the precision of thrash.

If the saturation of melodic death metal is something that concerns you, then, open your eyes and let the thrill of Instorm restore a sense of excitement. The opening title track is what Emperor would sound like with a Beethoven makeover. Think black metal aggression with neo-classical guitar patterns and ferocious vocals that can burst the vessels in your eyes. With such a supreme understanding of musical theory, comes a supreme grasp of melody. What do you think kept Mozart awake at night? The band change tempo in unison as easily as the night turns to black, and they weave through their scales with the force of an eccentric conductor. You can hear shades of heavy metal in ‘Time Reaper’ with the gallop of Wagner and the pulse of Manowar, but the hyper aggressive vocals and double-kick drums rip through the mix like a hurricane. Of course, they indulge the harmonised guitar parts and allow the bassist a shredding cameo – why wouldn’t they?

Ten songs of over-the-top heavy metal posturing and high-brow showmanship are easy to digest, but Instorm recognise that you must achieve the same sense of enjoyment as they do. For every Yngwie Malmsteen bedazzlement, you’ll find a deeper and slower exploration of a frost-bitten landscape bedecked in golden bells and sparkling yellow lights. ‘The Call’ sees guitarist, Marina Nemtseva, step up to the microphone to demonstrate the depth of her soprano lullabies. The Muscovites have a touch of the gothic about them at every turn. Listen to ‘The Smoldering Agony’ and absorb the cascading guitar arpeggios and whispered vocals before they switch to a harsher projection. Celestial folk guitars and fiddles light up the beginning to ‘Tears of Winters’, and it’s a brave decision to let the malevolent vocals into this pristine landscape like a fox in a chicken coop. But it works.

You half expect Instorm to run out of steam with such an emphasis on musical perfection, and you could say that ‘Wings for Eternity’ and ‘Bloody Touch’ are the closest they come to filler tracks in the last quarter. Both songs fall into a neo-classical thrash cocoon with no inclination to emancipate beyond the thrill of creating high drama. Marina Nemtseva and Roman Nemtsev would do well to let the power chords ring out more so we can enjoy the hostility of the bottom end distortion with a fearsome facial expression befitting of a heavy metal listener. But these are reservations that do little to spoil the experience.

You don’t settle into a comfortable lull during a blizzard, and Instorm ensure the sweat remains on your forehead and neck when your body temperature ought to plummet. Psycho Violence reveals more surprises on repeat listens if you have thirty-seven minutes to spare.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 09/12/2022

Record Label: Metal Carnival Records

Standout tracks: Psycho Violence; The Call; The Smoldering Agony

Suggested Further Listening: Forsaken Eternity – A Kingdom of Ice (2022), Yngwie Malmsteen – Rising Force (1984), Exanimis – Marionnettiste (2021)