Review: Insense - Burn in Beautiful Fire

A silly and strange metal record.
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insenseOslo’s Insense has the stamp of approval from In Flames’ Anders Fridén (he also manages the band) and the studio magic of Daniel Bergstrand (Meshuggah, In Flames) on their side, but Burn in Beautiful Fire may well be the silliest and strangest metal record I’ve heard so far this year.

This, Insense’s fourth full-length, was released last year in Europe and helped vault the band to festival bookings at Hove, Norway Rock and the Inferno Festival. It was also nominated for a Norwegian Grammy Award for Best Metal Album in 2011 and is Insense’s first on Norway’s Indie Recordings.

Insense was created in 1999 by vocalist/guitarist Tommy Hjelm and guitarist Martin Rygge. Drummer Truls Haugen and bassist Ola S. Hana complete the quartet.

Burn in Beautiful Fire borrows notes from the nu-metal of Korn and Disturbed and melts it with the a tiny bit of hardcore and thrash to formulate a baffling stew that doesn’t seem lack in passion or candour but does lack in, well, overall goodness.

There are moments where Insense manages some solid stuff, make no mistake about it, but the bulk of the record seems to follow the erroneous notion that more is more. There’s a kitchen sink approach to Burn in Beautiful Fire that crowds the album with dated clichés, ludicrous lyrics, less-than-convincing vocals, and paint-by-numbers guitar.

“Death for Me, Death for You” kicks the album off with pretty standard fare. Vocalist Hjelm mixes the clean vocals with some barks, snarls and death metal rumbles, shifting characters recurrently. The music follows the same dizzying movement, hazarding into weaker fragmented chords before banging into a more dominant gear for “impact.”

“Alone in a Crowd” finds Hjelm abruptly developing an accent and going the emo direction. The song is cheesy from top to bottom, with bellowed verses and slapdash melody offering nothing to hold on to and the chorus reading like a hokey after-school special theme tune.

By far the silliest song on the record is “Perversion.” Insense opens it up with a mosh-ready routine but rapidly slips things into absurd terrain by the time the refrain pulls into the wayward station. “Per-ver-sion,” shouts Hjelm over a mess of guitars. “Pervert! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”

With gulping guitars, weird vocals, weirder lyrics, and not a lot of musical consistency, Burn in a Beautiful Fire is a laughable mess of a record. It is silly, weak and archaic in all the wrong ways, remaining a disappointment from a band has the back-up and dexterity to do a lot better.