This has proven to be one hell of a year for the black metal emerging out of central Europe, specifically Germany. It feels like it has become a monthly trend of mine to report some new, massive release from these particular regions that benefit us, and the respective genre, immensely. Well, make this no situation no different. With their debut album titled Disciples of the Void, Shrine of Insanabilis has created what is, all in all, an exceptional album that marks their place among the better black metal releases of 2015 so far.
Formed only this year in Karlsruhe, Germany, Shrine of Insanabilis have made it a point to keep their identifications veiled. I know it’s not uncommon for a black metal outfit to lurk below the surface and remain somewhat anonymous, but Shrine of Insanabilis takes this idea to another level. If you spend any significant time researching this band, it will all prove to be in vain. Their Facebook page lists no relevant information, and Metal Archives informs us that there are no actual members in this band. Literally none. And you know what? That anonymity is entirely for the benefit of this debut. Instead of wasting time focusing on the history of the musicians at work, you are instead manipulated into isolating with the music itself. And given the quality within these notes, it’s a strategy that only pays off in the end.
When analyzing the music, I’ll start off by saying that Disciples of the Void is an album that requires, and deserves, careful studying through multiple, isolated listens. At first, the ferocious display of tremolo picking, relentlessly chaotic percussion, and wide range of dark, bellowing vocals will overwhelm any listener. This is organic, hatred-fueled intensity that, with the brief introductory “End All” and continuing through “Ruina”, is released in full force from the very beginning. All produced brilliantly, it’s these elements that form the forefront of the album. It encourages an audience to focus on the aggressiveness communicated through frustrations with humanity and organized religion. This is pure, unfiltered darkness in musical form. The influences are obvious, the emotions are natural, and it all comes together to form a dizzying display of aggression. From the unrelenting galloping pace of “Acausal Paths” to the far more deliberate weight of “Acerbus”, the message that Shrine of Insanabilis brings to the table is unmistakable. This initial presence alone makes for an album that will resonate with its listener long after its conclusion.
But with time, and a certain amount of patience, Disciples of the Void evolves into a piece of expression that is far more complex than what is on the surface. After a certain point, the enveloping atmospheric interludes of “Invocation” and “Still Of This Earth”, for example, take precedence and offer a new semblance of deliberation that may have been previously unrecognized. The percussion settles, the vocals take a secondary role, and each guitar lead is drawn out with infinite specificity. Where there was rage and disdain for mankind, there is now a unique acceptance of the hopelessness of our existence. It’s dark, yet beautiful in this understanding of our collective lack of purpose. These moments, all mixed in with the some of the purest black metal we have heard all year, show off the creativity and depths of emotion at work. These melancholic moments found within the diverse song structures truly show off the talented musicianship on display throughout this 42 minute listen. It is these complexities and these transitions between styles that formulate the full impressiveness of Disciples of the Void.
Make no mistake, while only being a debut, Shrine of Insanabilis’ Disciples of the Void continues the trend of memorable black metal emerging in 2015. For the genre, this album has just about everything we could ask for. From the power, to the darkened emotions, to the musical creativity, it’s an album that will surely keep an audience intensely focused on the sounds filling the air around them. Furthermore, with so much mystery shrouding the individuals behind the sound, we are left with a definitive curiosity once the final note has drawn to a close.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”