Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tormented - Death Awaits [2013]

Tormented is essentially a composite of Robert Karlsson and Dread of Edge of Sanity, who decided to hire another guitarist and a drummer to revisit the olden landmarks of their homeland, such as Dismember, Entombed and Grave, instead of going for another, technically imbued modern Edge of Sanity album. Their debut ''Rotten Death'' was such a crafty, nostalgic record that quickly became a rather popular release among other Swedish death metal mavens, and it was popularized partly because it came just in the right time, when the old school death metal steak was nearing a well-cooked, juicy thing of flesh and bones that any purist at the time would eagerly and voraciously devour, but it seems now that the band has blundered with the advent of their sophomore offering, ''Death Awaits''. Simply put, that deliciously pungent well-cooked stake is now overcooked, and it ain't so tasty anymore. Truth be told, I somehow saw this coming. Amid myriads of bands taking the same, ghoulish, chainsaw-beaten trajectory that promptly arrived after Tormented's debut, how could the band possibly find a way to elude vexation and repetitiveness, and find salvation through a newly attached array of artillery? There have been a couple of bands who have successfully defeated the plaguing tenuousness of this disease, but many have succumbed to their destiny, bowing down to the ancient masters and forfeiting the same prognosis, and Tormented is unfortunately one of these bands...

''Rotten Death'' was never an original record, and it was in fact one of the most generic of its kind, even in 2009, but it was fun, memorable and it payed importance to the individual strengths and twists of the riffs, unlike ''Death Awaits'' which fails to appease the listener with genuine riffs and nihilistic openings, thus instantly smothering the listener with a load of festering chainsaw riffs. The same production quality is there, the massive, lurching guitar riffs that erupt into frenzied d-beat excursions are there, the L-G Petrov inflection is there, so why the fuck is ''Death Awaits'' not on par with its predecessor? Here's why. While the overall sound may roughly add up to the same sum, Tormented aren't lacing their musical preferences with intrigue and menace, and you can't depict the image of a fiendish demon-skeleton chasing you with a scythe in the middle of the graveyard half as vividly as ''Rotten Death'', and secondly, the guitars feel battered and exhausted, (although your ears are probably just as berated from hearing an excess of this stuff) with hardly a tinge of excitement to them, rumbling along soullessly. I'll confide that the vocals still sound fresh, a demonic zombie creeping between gaping holes in the guitars, which makes them audible but still muffled and cavernous, but the drums are just as jaded as the guitars, and this time they're upfront, nakedly displaying their lack of variation, and as if that wasn't enough, they're spiky and nettling, to the listener's dismay.

The basic thing that drowns ''Death Awaits'' is not its lack of focus but in fact its over-dedication towards focus. The hinges of the album are screwed so tightly that it leaves little or no breathing space for the listener, and this is certainly not the kind of music you'd want to the immersed in. There some fairly strong tracks though, like grindcore-paced ''Black Sky'' that's narrated by a haunting wisp of melody while the guitars erupt outrageously above, and the opener, the title track isn't so shabby either, an introductory discourse of raging, warlike riffs that could easily belong to ''Rotten Death'' itself. Of course, beyond the level of redundancy here, I'm sure the song lengths contributed considerably to Tormented's degradation in quality here, because songs like these are meant to be no longer than 3-4 minutes, and the majority of the songs clock at some 4-6 minutes. An unremitting orgy of decrepit, rotten riffs is what Tormented allegedly aimed to do here, and while they succeeded in achieving this goal, ''Death Awaits'' holds as little plausibility as any other Swedeath drone out there, because hell, even the lyrics have expired in originality. I would have loved to see the quartet expanding their retinue and casting a wider net whose reach would not only grant them the same amount of attention they sought but would have also raised their status in the metal underground. Yet, despite all its flaws, this is still some solid old school death metal that fans of Horrendous, Skeletal Spectre, Zombiefication and Necrovation would do well to get their hands on.

Death Awaits
Insane With Dread
Black Sky

Rating: 65%

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