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Overtorture boasts quite a lineup, featuring numerous veteran members in the death metal underground with past and present members of such influential bands as Grave and Demonical. With Swedish death metal starting to get pretty boring with the lack of any truly memorable releases, Overtorture‘s debut release, At the End the Dead Await promises to be one that will leave an impact on fans of this variant of old school death metal.
So I guess it isn’t all that surprising when similarities to forefathers of the genre such as Entombed and Grave are easily spotted as the album progresses. But what Overtorture presents here is a more dynamic sound. Rather than sticking to the d-beat, crusty sound that bands like Entombed have created, the band has instead attempted to give their music their own personality, all the while keeping the energy of the aforementioned and the aggression of bands like Bloodbath. For instance, the band includes moments of heavy melody at times throughout the album, like on the intro of album opener Black Shrouds of Dementia. There are moments as well where the band attempts to go into slightly technical death metal grounds with the complex riffs that are lightly littered throughout the album. Furthermore, the usage of trem-picked riffing at certain points of the album also bring in some Floridian death metal influences, and definitely helps in making their music sound slightly more interesting than the other bands playing music in similar veins.
The personal highlight over here is perhaps the drumming Fredrik, who provides lots of the energy and brutality especially on the slower parts of the album like on the starting moments of Slaves to the Atom. The guitar solos and lead guitars on the album also help to keep up that somewhat haunting and ominous atmosphere, despite not being anything particularly flamboyant or technical. These are also often done through the usage of clean guitars, like on The Outer Limits.
The production quality on the album is stellar as well, and allows for the full impact of the music to hit the listener without any mercy. Instead of having that usual abrasive tone that Swedish death metal has now become synonymous with, the band chooses a more crushing, ballsy tone that certainly works in their favour, all the while retaining the classic riffing styles of the genre. The somewhat bassy production also allows for the album to have a fuller and consequently heavier sound as well.
To be honest it has been awhile since a Swedish death metal album could have this much pull on me, and I often find myself going back to the album time and again for another dosage. At the End the Dead Await is certainly one of the better Swedish death metal albums that are released of late, and the lineup of Overtorture also proves their mastery of the genre with this release.
The world is at a point now where it's become so over saturated with the derivative 'Swedish' styled death metal band that it really takes a group of relentless riff-mongers to write impressively within the field. I mention this as I feel that Overtorture survive the cut of the critical scythe by accomplishing just that: enough variation and punishment through the 10 tracks of their debut that you very quickly forget this is bound to be a knockoff, and you simply settle in for some fun with their material. After all, some of the members here actually DO have history in some of those formative bands. So, does At the End the Dead Await sound a little like Dismember? Sure. Grave? Positive. Entombed? Indubitably, but the comparisons are easy to scrape past as you begin nodding your chin to the loping, meaty grooves and swampy, churning guitar tone.
This is not a band to apply itself to rigidly to particular tempos or riffing styles, and as a result the sounds being emitted from the speakers invoke a wide array of influences, from their Swedish peers and forebears to hints of Floridian brutality, Dutch explosiveness and even a smidgeon of Bolt Thrower when they're hitting a slower, morbid, warlike breakdown. From tremolo picked patterns to swerving chords, morbidly effulgent dual harmony spikes and putrid palm muted pummeling, you are never exactly treated to the same repetitive patterns on any two songs here. The vocals are a pretty par for the course, guttural growl, but at least they leave a few of the flaws and gravelly sustains into the production so it's never too monotonous (though branching out more wouldn't be a bad thing). The bass drums and fills are abrasive and intense enough to support the thick pungency of the rhythm guitar, and the lead tones are pretty fantastic as they snake off from the central riffing barrage. They definitely hit a bit of a technical/clinical area with several of the tracks like "Suffer As One"; perhaps not bafflingly complex for the 2010s, but stuff like this was once pretty cutting edge for the early 90s (Suffocation, Sinister, Morbid Angel, etc).
I also enjoy the amount of effort placed in some of the simpler riff constructions, which throw you just enough with some dissonance or melody that you never get a feeling Overtorture is predictable. Granted, the actual note progressions are about 50/50 between average and memorable, but for the most part I was unable to turn my attention away from the album as it tore through track after track of ballistic aggression, and there were a few slammy moments where I wanted to kick my chair back and hurl my headphones at a wall (in a good way). Production here is paramount, with perhaps my one beef being that the bass lines seem far too subdued into the guitar tone. Otherwise, a very wholesome and rich mix for those who love their metal old but up to today's studio standards of volume and clarity. I will admit that I found the cartoonish artwork of the cover and the boring logo to be subpar for the music itself, but these are minor aesthetic quips in the overall scheme, and At the End the Dead Await is worth hearing if you're a fanatic for old bands like Grave and Seance, or more recent devotees like Feral, Mr. Death, Entrails, Corpsessed, etc.