Insanity Alert – 666-Pack Review

There’s a fine line between homage and thievery.

Nearly two decades ago now, Municipal Waste came raging out of Richmond, with a silly sense of humor and a sound borrowed heavily from DRI, early Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies, and the like. As Waste was to those first-wave giants, Austria’s Insanity Alert is Waste themselves. It’s a copy of a copy, and the results…

Well, the results are pretty much what you’d think.

Release date: January 25, 2018. Label: Season Of Mist.
Ticking every check-box on the Crossover For Dummies list, Insanity Alert is up-front about their intentions, those being to thrash, drink beer, smoke weed, thrash, watch football, skate, and thrash some more. Every second of 666-Pack is soaked through with the same drunken snotty irreverence that characterized the band’s previous two full-lengths, and the whole of it is couched in an eyeroll-inducing amount of wink-wink nostalgic nods to the trashy pop culture. There’s a song about GI Joe (“Cobra Commander”), and there’s a song about Transformers (“Dark Energon”). There’s a “stop, Hammer-time” quote only seconds after the close of a song that references Milli Vanilli. There’s a song called “Why So Beerious?” and there’s a song called “I Come, I Fuck Shit Up, I Leave.” There’s a quick piss-take on 8-bit, and there’s a (thankfully) brief thrash re-imagining of “Stayin’ Alive” called “Saturday Grind Fever.”

And as nauseatingly cutesy and cloying as all that is, it’s tolerable because Insanity Alert is a pretty good crossover band. Vocalist Heavy Kevy has a solid hardcore bark, very much in line with the Brechts and Forestas, and when they aren’t elbowing you in the ribs with their jokes, the rest of the band can thrash capably. But…

…there’s a fine line between homage and thievery.

And 666-Pack crosses it around the three-quarters mark with “The Ballad Of Slayer,” which is both a total rip of S.O.D. and a thumbed-nose at Jeff Hanneman. Six seconds long, that one’s just the intro riff to “South Of Heaven” followed by the expected “You’re dead!”—you could’ve guessed that, I’m sure. S.O.D.’s Speak English Or Die is one of the cornerstones of crossover, and there’s more than enough nods to that album in everything Insanity Alert has ever done to adequately express their admiration without completely stealing Milano and company’s signature bad-taste joke, and then amplifying its bad taste by applying it to one of metal’s fallen heroes.

From there, whatever songs may come and go, whether good ones or bad ones, it’s hard to lose the stigma of ripping off one of the most iconic albums in a given style. 666-Pack isn’t a terrible album, all in—it’s a perfectly acceptable crossover album that does nothing new at all with the sound, but it at least displays the appropriate energy and gets the riffs right. But it’s also an album with one critical six-second mistake that pushes it down a notch, from a knock-off to a rip-off.

There’s a fine line between homage and thievery. Stay on the right side of it.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

  1. Ballad of Slayer vs. Ballad of Hanneman?!

    Reply

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