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Despite Tortorum‘s country of origin being listed as Norway, the masterminds behind this project are hardly Norwegian, with bassist/vocalist Barghest hailing from UK and guitarist Skyggen hailing from Poland. Barghest’s other band, Spearhead‘s last release Themoachia was an impressive slab of black/death metal, easily making Speahead one of my favourite bands of recent times, and my liking of Skyggen’s Thunderbolt is clear, with Apocalyptic Doom being one of the best personal swansongs. The knowledge of these two people being the ones behind Tortorum instantly made this band one that I knew I had to listen to, and this year the band presents their debut full length album, Extinctionist under cult label World Terror Committee.
So I guess the heavy Norwegian influences that are present in Tortorum‘s music aren’t exactly that surprising, nor is the way that the album and songs are structured. The clean guitar that introduces the listener to Extinctionist are heavily reminiscent of the opening of Thunderbolt‘s Apocalyptic Doom, as are the guitar playing styles of Skyggen, with the Norwegian black metal-inspired riffing style. The influences from pioneering bands like Mayhem are clear, but these are definitely closer to his works on past Thunderbolt material. However, this isn’t to say that Tortorum is a complete Thunderbolt clone as Skyggen introduces a wider range of influences over here, at times littering the music with palm-muted riffs that lean more towards death metal territory, such as those on In Pestilence Majesty, where there is an almost (non-surprising) Polish black/death metal sound in his playing. Barghest further adds in the death metal element into the music with his gruff growls, though there are moments where he attempts a more black metal, higher-pitched shriek, resulting in a rather diverse sounding record.
The rather gritty production on Extinctionist also makes for a more abrasive-sounding record, as though the wrath unleashed by the duo behind the band weren’t violent enough, and the heavy presence of the bass makes the record all the more antisocial and unpleasant. Session drummer Erik (also of Norwegian band Sulphur) provides the battery on the record, not unlike other drummers known for their aggressive drum work like Behemoth/Azarath‘s Inferno and Thunderbolt/Infernal War‘s (and current live session drummer) Stormblast.
Whether one is looking for a new record to invoke some nostalgia of Thunderbolt material, or simply looking for good Norwegian black metal with a tinge of death metal aggression, Extinctionist will definitely not disappoint, and is an excellent debut album for Tortorum and a mark of more good things to come in the future.