Tormenter – Prophetic Deceiver

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Hailing from Los Angeles, Tormenter(with an e, not an o) had an album and two EP’s under their belt ahead of Static Tension picking up sophomore album Prophetic Deceiver, which was originally self-released at the tail end of last year. And, fair play to them, they’ve picked up an album laden with quality non-cliché thrash, and while the band had previously flown under the radar, this is definitely a release that deserves to be promoted and pushed.

While Biotoxic Warfare may have already stolen the prize of this year’s surprise thrash package, Tormenter nevertheless have a very worthwhile product on their hands. Steeped in the aggressive tropes of Kreator, with the throaty barks of Carlos Rodelo adding the sharpest of teeth to the whirl of riffs and taut precision of Thomas Bonilla’s percussion, a further ace in the hole is Kory Alvarez and his Steve di Giorgio styled bass walks augmenting the sound with class.

The spirit of Schuldiner presides throughout, ingrained in the violence, an intrinsic and regular marker, but it is in the ball park of German thrashery and less staccato, more progressive music that Tormenter play, with Beneath The Remains (Roadrunner) a ready comparator. In amongst some lock-jaw, rhythmic right-wrist pace songs loop off with 80’s Megadeth melodic fish-hooks before lurching into the crunch, and there are several welcome moments of diversity. Other tracks are spiky, technical numbers with more than an off-beat nod to the Scandinavian grind of the early 90’s.

That said, considering the seriousness and attack of the music, it’s a shame Tormenter have such a stock name and album cover, as the barrage of constricted riffage is serious, caustic and full of intent. Yet, ignoring such peripherals leaves a release that has served not just to, rightly, get Tormenter noticed, but put them firmly on the map. Should they bring something different to the image and visuals, and with further progression and development of their song-writing by working on incorporating more of the …And Justice For All (Vertigo) dark, progressive elements of their sound, Tormenter could make an even bigger impression next time around.

 

7.0/10

STEVE TOVEY

Biotoxic Warfare – Lobotomized

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Separating a cynical copy-cat retro band from one who are reproducing the sounds and styles they deeply and passionately love can be a difficult task – the former approach smacks of creative redundancy, whereas the latter shows a celebration of a style and a desire to add to the legacy. Biotoxic Warfare, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear, fall resoundingly into the second of those categories, with their joyous revisit of dark thrash on their debut full length, Lobotomized (Static Tension).

There are no prizes for guessing the Greek thrashers main influence (from ‘Chemical…’ to Biotoxic Warfare in, oh, 0.666 moves), but when they deliver the big riffs, with intricate attention to detail, such as the cuts to one guitar to bridge a section, or when to hit the Dave Lombardo double-bass drum groove, it’s easy to think they have sat down and thought to themselves “Slayer have been disappointing for twenty years, let’s write the album we wish they’d made after Seasons In The Abyss” (DefJam).

Indeed, speaking the Slaytanic ones, the album kicks off with the ‘Criminially Insane’ drum beat, though, boo, sadly we don’t get ‘Criminally Insane’. What we do get is a 3 minute intro that lets us know the band aren’t as silly as their throwback name implies, touching on some grade A Chuck Schuldiner riffing and Chris Poland lead phrasing.

The album ladles dark thrash in big servings, and Biotoxic Warfare provide aggressive choppy riffing, spiralling from Dark Angel to Kreator to (pre-Roots, natch) Sepultura (‘Baptised In Blood & Greed’ in particular showing some well-crafted Beneath The Remains (both Roadrunner) worship, before adding some cold Dissection bite in the form of ‘Dysphoric Reality’, which also possesses some big chugs, a big bridging groove, and some di Giorgio esque bass plunking cutting through.

When thrash made its throwback comeback with a plethora of idiots in radioactive shorts, it was easy to overlook the valid and vital contribution of the good hard, chunky, aggressive and serious mid-to-late 80’s thrash that Biotoxic Warfare have lovingly and fervently recreated, and rather than apeing a bygone genre, have added to in a most febrile and welcome fashion.

 

8.0/10

Biotoxic Warfare on Facebook

STEVE TOVEY