SQUEALER is a comparatively lesser-known but all the same impressively enduring German band that started […]
By Max Elias
December 6, 2020
Squealer-Insanity album cover

SQUEALER is a comparatively lesser-known but all the same impressively enduring German band that started in the 80s. Built on aspirations of being a hard-hitting POWER/SPEED METAL act in the vein of contemporaries like HELLOWEEN or RAGE, they have explored harder and softer sounds during their career, but never wandered far from that goal. Now they bring a reawakening of classic German metal fire with their latest album Insanity. The intensity is clear from the first moments of "In Flames", where the drums are almost like gunshots. Like so many German vocalists, Sebastian Werner has that roughness in his voice that suits this kind of music perfectly, striking a balance between melodic and ravenous. Another classic feature of the 80s is pyrotechnic guitar moments, and "In Flames" offers quite an impressive one.

POWER METAL is a galvanizing force, and SQUEALER understand this. The guitars on "Into Flames" and "Salvation" are galloping and charge ever-forward, supporting the soaring choruses these Germans are known for. It's impossible to resist banging your head along to the insistent, compelling rhythms. The solo on "Salvation" feels weird though; there is a flanger or phaser or something that makes the guitar tone sound like Tom Morello, which does not resonate too well in this musical environment.

SQUEALER (at least this current offering) remind me a bit of modern JUDAS PRIEST. What I mean by that is a lot of the riffing uses similar devices; such as the pedal-tone main riff on "My Journey" that is reminiscent of something off Redeemer of Souls. The vocals are obviously very different, because no one is Rob Halford, but the two share this kind of more modern recent direction. And similarly to Priest and bands of that era, the guitar solo remains a focal point in most of these songs. "My Journey" specifically is a guitar nerd's fantasy full off arpeggios, scale runs, tapping, etc.-all the trappings of the 'guitar god' era.

The band's softer side comes out on songs like "Low-Flying Brains" which introduces itself with a keyboard of all things. There is of course guitar littering the song, providing ringing power chords and a snaking pedal-tone motif, but it is an accent as opposed to the main feature. The vocals also become calmer and more plaintive as opposed to vitriolic. In short, this is a quintessential and ell-constructed power ballad. And the fade-out ending sets up  "Hunter of Myself" and its frantic tremolo riff nicely.

It's always interesting to listen to title tracks or singles that were released ahead of the album because clearly the band has a special connection to those. In this case, the title track is called "Insanity" and is unquestionably worthy of that distinction. The riffing is more focused and varied than elsewhere on the album, hitting like a hammer with each shift. It's also a unique song because the bulk of the lead playing (which is of course equally explosive as the rhythm playing) takes place underneath a chorus, which takes impressive chemistry between band members to pull off. Although the title of the song is "Insanity", the soloing is measured and dynamic with exactly this concern and mind, and they do in fact pull it off.

The rest of the album goes the way one would expect it to at this point; strong choruses, pounding drum and charging guitar work, and fun if slightly cliched lyrics (like during "Lose Control" when they sing 'Speed, speed, speed/is all I need) that when put together form an ironclad force of CLASSIC METAL glory. Through in the (considerably more than) occasional guitar solo and most everything that attracted young headbangers to the genre is reflected in Insanity. The album ends on another piano-filled ballad, "Black Rain". And there are two solos this time! Anyone who misses the days when bands stopped at nothing to show off their musicianship will be relieved to know that SQUEALER is here for them. A fantastic effort from a still-viral band that has fine-tuned their approach for around forty years at this point.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








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"Insanity" Track-listing:
  1. Into Flames
  2. Salvation
  3. Bad Tasting Sin
  4. My Journey
  5. Low-Flying Brains
  6. Hunter of Myself
  7. Insanity
  8. Lose Control
  9. Power of Bliss
  10. Black Rain
Squealer Lineup:

Sebastian Werner - Vocals
Lars Dӧring - Guitar
Michael Schiel - Guitar
Manuel Roth - Bass
Martin Winter - Drums

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