Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Torture Squad - Pandemonium

 Fishing with MURDER

It is currently 3:30 in the morning, I'm sitting in bed in my underwear with my laptop, stricken with the most unenviable insomnia man has ever known. It was at this particular moment, no more than five minutes ago, that I decided that I have listened to Torture Squad's Pandemonium roughly four hundred zillion times in my lifetime, and everybody should do the same. Chances are that if you've ever heard of Torture Squad, it's because of this album. Need proof? Absolutely every single review for the band on the Metal Archives mentions this album, most referencing how awesome it is. It would literally be amazing if I was kidding.

Wanna know why everybody compares everything the band has ever done (both before and after this album) against this album? It's because it indisputably set the bar for what the band was capable of in terms of riff writing, songwriting, and intensity. The only time the band takes their foot off the gas is during "Requiem for the Headless Rider", the instrumental interlude that precedes the thrash-death-murder-killing-mania of the closer, "The Curse of Sleepy Hollow". I fully believe it's there out of necessity, the band probably wrote another modern thrash classic but the label refused to release it with so much insanity on one disc. They let Sadus get away with it once and the government really cracked down on thrashers since then. Almost every track featured has at least one standout segment that helps it plant itself firmly in your memory (the main riffs in "World of Misery" and "Pandemonium", the chorus of "Out of Control", the entirety of "Horror and Torture"). I believe that the album's main credit to its impressive longevity (in the era of the short-minded internet listeners) is its masterful blend of accessibility with brutality. Let's face it kids, this shit is catchy, and that's one of the reasons you can remember it so well.

Pandemonioum's sound is also perfectly fitting for its content. It has an old school death/thrash metal sound without seeming like it's trying to emulate its heroes. Instead of saying "Hey, this needs to sound like Beneath the Remains", they said "Hey, this needs to sound awesome", and thus they ended up with this overwhelming crunch that accents the punctuated riffing. The low end is a bit lacking in presence but it's hardly noticeable when the guitars are so thick themselves. Vocally the band is fairly predictable in the sense of which style (high growls or low growls) he's going to use at any given moment of a song, but the formula that Torture Squad sticks to just fucking works, and there's no need to fiddle around with something that completely slays as is. And when it comes to the formula, Pandemonium has managed what I once thought was impossible: to make an album that is really basic and formulaic down at its core, but creative and passionate enough to make every last song stand out on their own. It also helps that there are only 7 real full songs on the album so it never overstays its welcome, nor has time to run out of ideas.

This kicks ass, plain and simple. If solid, basic thrash is considered to be "meat and potatoes", then I declare Pandemonium to be "steak and fries". When you really try to analyze it, this isn't any groundbreaking innovation, it's just four dudes who decided to thrash their asses off and take the names of any posers in their wake. Fortunately for the listener, Torture Squad is smart and creative enough to really give each slab its own identity. There are no unmemorable blurs on this album, just straight through non-stop headbanging and moshing. Brutal death/thrash at its absolute finest. This didn't get popular on accident.

RATING - 95%

P.S. - The delay in posting this here was due to Blogspot getting all goofy and making my top bar disappear for a week.

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