Whom Gods Destroy - Insanium

Whom Gods Destroy – Insanium

A glance at the album cover, the band name and album title, then perhaps check out the two well known names in the line up, and you will have a mental image of what this might be like. And the chances are you won’t be wrong. Whom Gods Destroy sounds for all the world like a prog metal behemoth, and the involvement of Derek Sherinian and Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal who provide the sonic fireworks for Sons of Apollo tells you all you need to know, right? Well, yes and no. You’ll be in the right ball park for sure, but to write them off as sons of Sons of Apollo would be completely wrong, and do a disservice to both bands.

Ok, there are similarities of course, and for that matter, comparisons could be justifiably made to one of Derek’s former bands, Dream Theater. However, the fact is that Whom Gods Destroy deserve better than that. There’s something a bit special about them. The most obvious differentiating factor is called Dino Jelusick. Who? Yeah exactly, I had to do some research! He’s a Croatian singer and musician initially famous for winning the inaugural Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2003. He fronted his own progressive rock band Animal Drive for a few years, and has toured as part of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, as well as his own band Jelusick. On top of all that, David Coverdale asked him to join Whitesnake as a backing vocalist. Pretty busy for someone you’ve never heard of! Now he’s been recruited by Derek Sherinian for this project, and it’s easy to see why. He’s an amazing vocalist with not only a huge range, but capable of a variety of styles, and is a commanding presence in Whom Gods Destroy.

It’s not only Jelusick who makes the band special though, the rhythm section is monstrous. Yas Nomura on bass and Bruno Valverde on drums are two more relative unknowns, but are fantastic players made for this sort of outfit. Of course Sherinian and Bumblefoot really need no introduction, and their musicality and flair is an assurance of quality. Neither has shone more brightly than they do on Insanium. From the opening classical piano intro to In The Name of War, you just know what is coming, and as expected the band crash in with crunching power and a heavy riff, tricky time signatures, furious explosions of flamboyance, and everything’s gone a bit Dream Theater! But it works, and when Jelusick produces his finest Dio style vocal performance, there should be a smile firmly planted on your face. If that’s not the case, let’s face it, this isn’t your kind of album! And that’s fair enough, this won’t appeal to everyone, but it will be enjoyed by many, and there’s much more. The slower mid-section is a platform for a superb guitar solo from Bumblefoot, which oozes Vai-style jazz inflected note bending, and is simply dreamy. Sherinian competes with a dazzling solo himself before we end the piece with a reprise of the piano intro. All this packed into six and a half minutes, and I’m breathless already.

Over Again follows, and is completely different in feel, with what sounds like a down-tuned grungy riff reminding me of Alice in Chains for a moment; but the moment is gone and Jelusick delivers rather shouty vocals over the intermittent riffage, then a catchy chorus and more guitar and keyboard histrionics. The rhythm guys really lock in on this song, and despite the change in style, it’s a great song. The Decision follows, and is back to a more classic rock feel. The fast and tricky riff from Thal contrasts the slower overlaid keyboard melody, and the melody is picked up by Jelusick on the verses. The lyrics seem to deal with a life crisis, but in a hopeful and positive way, and is quite uplifting, with a memorable chorus. Nomura’s rumbling bass underpins proceedings, and Bumblefoot turns in another guitar solo of dazzling dexterity; super stuff.

These three songs pretty much set the template for the album. Crawl begins with a mad keyboard riff then we’re off on another full tilt prog metal ride with a memorable and infectious groove. Find My Way Back actually gives us a breather, and is a classic rock ballad. There are nods to Seventies rock bands like Rainbow and Whitesnake, but Whom Gods Destroy make it their own, with a gloriously anthemic chorus, and Jelusick stamping his authority all over the song with a terrific performance. Crucifier is a return to the brutal and punishing riffing, and a slightly harsher vocal delivery, whilst Keeper of the Gate has a wonky grungy riff from Bumblefoot, eerie keyboard textures from Sherinian, and a very magical Dio-esque vocal as he intones ‘You are the keeper of the gate’! Guitars and keys go into overdrive for the instrumental Hypernova, which provides the prelude to the title track Insanium, the climax to the album, and longest track. However, at around eight and a half minutes, it’s not too long, and clearly the temptation to go for a full on prog noodle was avoided. Aggressive riffing, layered keys, powerful bass and thunderous drums provide the platform for another immense vocal display and manic guitar solo. The mid section slows things and sounds like a slow descent into the bowels of the Earth, with Sherinian’s imperious keyboards to the fore. A return to a bit more boisterous heaviness for the finale, and there you have it. A finer display of gratuitous power I’ve not heard in a while, and it’s all thoroughly enjoyable.

The nay-sayers will point out that it’s all been done before, and of course it has, but that doesn’t stop it being fun. When a formula is adhered to with such precision, energy and enthusiasm, the lack of originality is really beside the point. They make prog metal with passion, and never without the essential melodic element which makes the whole album so listenable and memorable. I gather from an interview with Jelusick that they aren’t touring until they have completed a second album, so we won’t see them yet, but they are clearly here for the long haul. With Insanium, they have made an arresting statement of intent, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys the heavier end of the prog spectrum.

01. In The Name Of War (6:39)
02. Over Again (5:02)
03. The Decision (7:08)
04. Crawl (6:36)
05. Find My Way Back (5:47)
06. Crucifier (4:44)
07. Keeper Of The Gate (4:55)
08. Hypernova (3:24)
09. Insanium (8:38)
10. Requiem (bonus track) (4:59)

Total Time – 57:45

Dino Jelusick – Vocals
Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal – Guitars
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards
Yas Nomura – Bass
Bruno Valverde – Drums

Record Label: InsideOut Music
Country of Origin: International
Date of Release: 15th March 2024

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