Review: Inhabiting that shadowy world between death and speed metal, Torchure make death metal songs that use speed metal technique -- palm-muted riffs, sudden stops and starts, a fulcrum of dynamic intensity to balance melodic playing with guttural blasts of rhythm riffing -- with distinctive central melodies that keep them from falling into the ashen indistinguishable thrashing of many contemporaries. Presaging the work of bands such as Summoning, songs often begin with a keyboard or lead-picked melodic foreshadowing, and then dive into slamming violent decomposition riffs that would be equally at home in Malevolent Creation or Asphyx.
1. The Veil Of Sanity
2. In His Grip
3. Abysmal Malevolence
4. Mortal At Last (instrumental)
5. Resort To Mortality
6. Genocidal Confessions
9. A Vortex Of Thoughts (instrumental)
10. Beyond The Veil
While the riffs themselves are basic, and often "rock" without descending into the harmonic forms (tension between pentatonic and minor scale) or rhythmic cliche (double-hit leading to expectation on the offbeat -- how "unique"!) common to rock music, they are formed around the minor-key melodic progressions that make this band distinctive. These are not single melodies, but motifs which rotate with increasing layers of detail in the style of ambient bands, accruing atmosphere through guitar riffs gradually evolving toward melodic intervals, harmonizing death vocals, keyboards and a succession of pauses that create staccato in song structure. It is masterfully done in a style at home with the musical literacy of a Metallica or Iron Maiden.
In outlook Torchure is on this album more like a doom metal band than death metal, as its tendency is to sink further into emotional concentration instead of distancing abstraction, but this is carefully wired into the larger circuitry of the eternal emotions of metal, namely a resistance to calcification through a spiritedness that transcends rules obsoleted as soon as they are written down. Vocals merit a mention for using the enunciation of an opera singer in a lounge act using a death voice, which works far better than one might think, and the tasteful use of open and muffled chords to build a staggering weight of harmonic impossibility through which drifts the scent of a melody. This band blew their career by misspelling their name but their music transcends all criticism for those lucky enough to find it.
Review: Europe accepted metal of a more extreme caliber than was permissible in the United States, thus their next generation of metal hybridized the Bathory, Sodom, Destruction, Kreator, and Celtic Frost influences with a long tradition of stadium-levitating heavy metal as well as the newly popular speed metal bands from the United States. In this liminal state Torchure created extremely rapid music that staged itself in the quasi-operatic dramatism that only heavy metal can engender, where unlike rock the individual is not the focus but the significance of the scene.
Where "Beyond the Veil" might be described as a fusion between Metallica and Kreator and Paradise Lost, "The Essence" strays closer to the more acerbic style of death metal to come and abandons the explicitly lush descent into emotion for ripping abstract riffs in a style that, if "Beyond the Veil" hearkened to the Metallica years, is an allusion to the best of Slayer. This music might more accurately be described as death metal: the staggered pauses and expectant beatdrops are gone, as are the muffled thunderbolt percussion strumming and brooding atmosphere. What replaces it is an atmosphere of grandeur and the feral importance of things that cannot be articulated in human terms; the central melodic motifs have now become simpler and buried in implication.
1. Invisible Truth (4:54)
2. Sense of Death (0:59)
3. Sinister Seduction (4:37)
4. Voice of Power (6:06)
5. Terminus (1:26)
6. No Rest in Peace (4:26)
7. Between the Urges (6:39)
8. The Essence (6:02)
9. Cry of Madness (5:06)
10. X (0:36)
11. Traces (7:09)
12. Lost Souls (2:52)
As musical alchemy, the music is binary: it creates a thesis, then something that would be an antithesis except it does not address the thesis and thus is more like that which occupies the place the thesis desires, and these are synthesized by way of a conclusion that does not state the counterpoint but with that adroitness of phrase peculiar to German metalbands posits a contrary world in which the absorption of conflicted opposites into a new form has already in itself been absorbed. Lead guitar squirms through the thick chords played open of choruses and fades in the rippling textures of tremolo that define verses, maggots on methamphetamine struggling through the brains of an army of the dead. This album strikes with more impact than the other but does not explore innerspace so thoroughly, preferring a panoramic view of the extra-human like a Nietzscheian weather sattellite.
A clear musical presence sequences these ideas, which are some of the most coherently composed metal from this era, and give this band an aura of that indefinable weight that comes when spirit and morality find common ground in the assertion of natural passion against constraining barriers of both fated conclusions and entropic degradation in inaction. The music moves with the rupturing force of a Bolt Thrower, although more definitive with less of the attack-release surging grindcore positioned against expansive melodic riffing that distinguishes that band. Nailing chords into potent riffs and tight-ended structures, Torchure make a lasting testament to metal with the simplest of musical tools.