Sanity Obscure

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Sanity Obscure
Studio album by Believer
Released 1990
Recorded 1990, Morning Star Studios, Spring House, Pennsylvania
Genre Progressive thrash metal, symphonic metal
Length 37:49
Label Roadrunner (1991)
R.E.X. Records (1990)
Producer Doug Mann and Paul Krueger
Believer chronology
Extraction from Mortality
Sanity Obscure

Sanity Obscure is the second album by the Christian thrash metal band Believer, published in 1990 by R.E.X. Records and a year later by Roadrunner Records. Several mainstream magazines praised the album.[1]

Recording history[edit]

Sanity Obscure was recorded and mixed in Morning Star Studios, Spring House, Pennsylvania in 1990. The album was produced by Doug Mann and Paul Krueger. Sanity Obscure was mastered in The Hit Factory, New York. The intro for "Sanity Obscure" was recorded at HMS Productions and was engineered by Ted Hermanson. All songs, apart from "Dies Irae", are written by quartet Kurt Bachman, Joey Daub, David Baddorf, and Wyatt Robertson, who replaced the former member Howe Kraft.[2]


Sanity Obscure begins with an intro called "Teddy Bears", in which a musical box tune distorts into obscurity. The album contains "dissonant guitar riffs, unusual stop-start rhythms and complicated arrangements", with Kurt Bachman's vocals being "the only conventional sounding characteristic of Sanity Obscure."[3]

The lyrics deal with theology and social issues. "Wisdom's Call" is about personal wisdom and its calling that simple people reject. "Stop the Madness" talk about a drug user who has been brainwashed by a decaying world, and is always searching to belong but is too blind to see his shattered dreams. "Nonpoint" takes a stance on the dark side of the industrialized society where general ignorance has caused pollution that corrupts nature, and in the end, man's soul. "Like a Song" is a cover of a U2's rebel song which ponders that one must start revolution from within oneself before one can change the world.

"Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)"[edit]

"Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)" is usually cited as the highlight of the album. According to Jeff Wagner in his book Mean Deviation, the song was a creative watershed in metal, and except for Mekong Delta, no other extreme metal band at the time had merged the genre with classical music so seamlessly.[4] The orchestral section was conducted by Scott Laird. The song's first three minutes consist of orchestrated strings, synthesizer effects and the soprano vocals of Julianne Laird Hoge. After that the band joins in with its thrash metal output in contrast with the orchestration. Doug Mann executed the concept of the song and the band section was composed by Kurt Bachman. Dies irae itself is a Latin poem or hymn which prays mercy at the dawn of apocalypse. The poem was originally written by Thomas of Celano, an Italian friar of the Franciscans, who lived in 13th century and was an obligatory part of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass for some centuries before 1969. Kurt Bachman stated that the song was inspired by Mozart's Requiem Mass.[3]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[5]
Cross Rhythms 10/10 squares[6]

Sanity Obscure received a wider audience than Extraction from Mortality. Although Sanity Obscure never really became popular, several mainstream magazines praised the album.[1] According to Jeff Wagner, the song Dies Irae "foreshadowed the operatic approach of future metal bands such as Therion and Nightwish."[3] A retrospective review by Decibel called the song "one of the earliest recorded examples of symphonic metal, using orchestral parts and operatic female vocals that presaged both Nightwish and S&M."[7]

According to the members of Doomworld, the video game musician Robert Prince covered the title song "Sanity Obscure" for the video game Doom in E1M6 level's song "On the Hunt" (see: Making of Doom). The song "Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)" also appeared on the soundtrack of the skating video series of CKY.

In 2010, HM Magazine ranked Sanity Obscure #42 on its Top 100 Christian Rock Albums of all-time list stating: "When Christians make art that blows people away with its creativity, skill and excellence ... well, isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be when people are in relation to the Creator? Sanity Obscure – case in point."[8] On August 2010 issue of Heaven's Metal fanzine, the album ranked #10 on the Top 100 Christian metal albums of all-time list.


Following the release of Sanity Obscure, Believer toured with the British deathgrind band Bolt Thrower and the Canadian death metal band Sacrifice. They did tours in Europe an US, with Believer as the support act. Based on the band's live videos, they played the songs faster in concerts than on the album.


The original pressings of both R.E.X. Records and Roadrunner Records are sold out these days and are hard to find.[1]

In 2005, a Canadian record label called Retroactive Records a 1000 units pressing of Sanity Obscure, in which they had included an instrumental "bonustrack" from Believer's 1987 demo The Return titled "I.Y.F.". This caused some controversy when both Kurt Bachman and Joey Daub informed that they would have not give permission to include extra material if they were asked. In their opinion, the track listing should have stayed as it originally was. However, the record company did not break any copyright laws.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Kurt Bachman, Joey Daub, David Baddorf and Wyatt Robertson except the intro and the orchestration and "Like a Song", originally by U2.
  1. "Sanity Obscure" - 6:06
  2. "Wisdom's Call" - 3:44
  3. "Nonpoint" - 5:14
  4. "Idols of Ignorance" - 4:39
  5. "Stop the Madness" - 3:56
  6. "Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)" - 5:41
  7. "Dust to Dust" - 5:02
  8. "Like A Song" - 3:27


Stop the Madness (8:27), 1990 Roadrunner Records

The first and only Believer single. Features the radio edit of "Stop the Madness" and its separate intro as well as the U2 rebel song cover "Like A Song".

  1. Anti-Drug PSA - 1:04
  2. Stop the Madness - 3:59
  3. Like a Song (U2 cover) - 3:24



  • Kurt Bachman - guitar, vocals
  • Joey Daub - drums
  • Wyatt Robertson - bass
  • David Baddorf - guitar

Guest musicians[edit]

  • Scott Laird - orchestral composition of "Dies Irae"
  • Julianne Laird Hoge - soprano on "Dies Irae"


  • Doug Mann and Paul Krueger - production
  • Paul Krueger - engineering
  • David DeVries - cover art
  • Tom Storm - photos
  • Deana Baddorf - road manager
  • Robert Baddorf - video tech
  • Eric "Cecil" Greenwalt - crew chief
  • PGM Management - management
  • Matt and Bran - "Teddy Bears" intro
  • Ted Hermanson - engineering for "Teddy Bears" intro at HMS Productions


  1. ^ a b c Torreano, Bradley (2005-04-30). "Sanity Obscure". Allmusic. Open Publishing. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  2. ^ "Liner notes of Sanity Obscure booklet". Sanity Obscure. RR-9312-2. 
  3. ^ a b c Wagner 2010, p. 155
  4. ^ Jeff Wagner, Steven Wilson (2010). Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal. Bazillion Points Books. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-9796163-3-4. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Allmusic review
  6. ^ Bibby, Si (August 1, 1991). "Believer - Sanity Obscure". Cross Rhythms. Tony Cummings (7). 
  7. ^ Treppel, Jeff (November 9, 2012). "The Lazarus Pit: Believer's Sanity Obscure". Decibel. Alex Mulcahy. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  8. ^ HM Staff. "Top 100 Christian Rock Albums of All Time". HM Magazine. Open Publishing. Retrieved 2010-07-17. 
  9. ^ Waters, Scott (2005-05-06). "Believer Frontman Slams Label For Reissuing Band's Catalog With 'Bonus' Tracks". Blabbermouth. Roadrunner Records. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 

External links[edit]