Insanguine takes inspiration from Scandinavian metal

BY LUKE VOELZ | JULY 28, 2011 7:20 AM

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With three songwriters, five members, and a genre running the gamut of folk, progressive, and doom metal, Iowa City metal quintet Insanguine faces a lofty challenge in condensing influences into a single song — much less an entire album.

Insanguine will perform as a supporting act for Condor at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave.

Lead guitarist Tay Sky described the two-pronged approach he and guitarist and brother Jarien Sky use with drummer Troy Tietige.

"[Tietge] and I have a lot of good metal jams," Tay Sky said. "But a lot of riffs come from me and Jarien sitting down outside band practice and meticulously composing stuff note by note, making sure it's harmonized. It's sort of a mix between the two."

Insanguine plays a melodic style of folk metal popular in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia. The band subsisted on Jarien Sky's growled vocals for a year before adding Gwendolyn Hartley-Prime in 2010, whose soprano vocals and devoted interest in Celtic mythology strengthened the pagan and folk atmosphere.

"I would say we're mostly influenced by Europe metal bands, me especially," Tietge said. "And [Gwen's] voice adds more of a folk sound to the songs."

Jarien Sky and Tay Sky worked to balance their own influences — folk metal and power metal, respectively.

"We work pretty well together," Tay Sky said. "Most of the time, we're able to come up with stuff we all like. [The band] will say, 'Oh, I hate that,' if we stray too far."

The constant practice allowed Insanguine to release its first album, Promise Remains From Sea to Snow, in December 2010. Tietge said the group plans to record a new offering this winter, using new songs he plans on showcasing at Saturday's concert.

"A couple of them are a bit faster than a lot of our songs, which is really fun to play," he said. "For the most part they stick to the formula we have, sort of organically created among all of us."

Hartley-Prime's soprano vocals alongside the speedy riffs and lyrical themes of Celtic and Saxon mythology mark a striking difference from the heavier, crushingly slow sludge-and stoner-metal bands popular in Iowa City.

Sharing the live bill with such dissimilar styles can be difficult, Tietge said, though Insanguine has found a small, dedicated following in its two year history.

"I think most of the local metal bands appreciate us to some extent — we've got a core following in Iowa City of a couple dozen people who come to our shows," he said. "But I do sense a little bit of uninterest from some of the local American-style metal bands or stoner metal bands. Not sure if they just don't dig us that much or what."

Yet, the crowds have been more receptive. Insanguine's blend of melodic and extreme metal allows the band to garner appreciation from the wide range of metalheads found at local shows, Tay Sky said.

"If someone's at a show where there isn't as much harsh vocals, they'll be surprised when we do that," he said. "Yet we still have a lot of clean and melodic vocals. The reaction [among fans] is that we're somewhat progressive. That wasn't my intention, but I try to push myself as much as I can technically, which tends to make it appeal to a wider audience."

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