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Choppy, ravaging, corrosive, stop-and-start death - 80%

erebuszine, April 12th, 2013

Over the course of this album's quick thirteen songs and thirty-four minutes, there are occasional bursts of genuine inspiration and enthusiasm that of course recall Danny Coralles and Chris Reifert's shared past in Autopsy. That can be counted on, and when you read the advertisements for this album that splash Autopsy's name all over the place, you are not really being lied to, surprisingly enough. A few of these songs do sound like the prime era of that fantastic band, but they in no way (as I see it) justify people thinking of this as some kind of Autopsy comeback. It just isn't so... for one thing, Eric Cutler isn't here, and his contributions would be vital to any kind of reunion...

Instead of Cutler we have Clint Bower, from the sadly underrated band Hexx, which used to be on Wild Rags Records a long time ago, and who I was actually fortunate enough to see play live in Houston, supporting (I believe) Sadus, about ten years in the past... in any case Clint is in good form here, and if he doesn't exactly add the brilliance that Cutler would have probably brought to 'Tormented', he doesn't take away anything either... I'm sure he fits into this band very well...

Also appearing here on bass, I believe, is Joe Allen, from the proto-black metal band Von...

As for the music, this is pretty much what you'd expect from these guys: choppy, ravaging, corrosive, stop-and-start death metal from that genre's golden age, as if all of the ways the style had progressed since '89 have been forgotten, or rendered powerless... Reifert is his usual abrasive self, vomiting out barks and sick screams, crashing and bashing his kit to pieces, the riffing from the two guitarists is drunken, sloppy, seemingly improvised in a number of places, and just about perfect. The solos, especially in the first song 'Rusted Blood', are played in a casual, offhand manner the likes of which I have not heard in a long time. Some of them are almost brilliant, and instantly evoke 'Severed Survival' for me, although one of the guitarists (I am guessing it is Bower) has a 'stoner' tone and feel not unlike Fu Manchu's fuzzier moments, which is little distracting - especially on the title track. The lyrics? Well, I don't have the sheet, but guessing from the song titles I'm sure they are in the grand Autopsy tradition as well...

Ultimately I don't know what the value of this album is going to end up being... will it continue to be touted as some kind of Autopsy reunion or 'return to form' (it is worth noting that the label is claiming this, not the band, as far as I can tell) for these guys, or will it be a step in a new direction - a release that marked a new path of exploration? Who knows? Again, a fair amount of this is actually pretty close to mid-period Autopsy, after Mental Funeral, right before they completely lost their minds and descended into a scatological delirium, and so for long-time fans of these musicians and their earlier work, this will certainly be welcome. There is a little more rock 'n' roll here, perhaps, than in the classic Autopsy material, a little more punk - simpler melodies ('Ratbag'), spontaneity, and simpler song structures - and a love for the raw, unpracticed, and 'uncooked' in terms of their whole sound. Because I have been experiencing something of a resurgence of interest in Autopsy lately, prompted by Necroharmonic's release of their demo material on CD, I feel I'm in a pretty good position right now to listen to 'Tormented' critically, but the last thing I would want to do would be to compare this to that band's classic output, and, in all fairness, that's probably the last thing this band would want done to them - after all, those first death metal albums were released over a decade ago, and I'm sure these guys have moved on, right? Well...

This probably would have left me with a better opinion of its relevance if it had been an EP or MCD, limited to only the slowest and most agonizing songs... the faster, more up-tempo material leaves me absolutely cold... I don't really know why. Only when listening to 'Scream Bloody Gore' or Reifert's first album with this band do I appreciate his take on quick tempos. But when, for example, Abscess decide to slow it down and pound out those old Autopsy funeral marches - for example, the end of 'Deathscape in Flames', the middle of 'Rusted Blood', or in 'Death Runs Red' - I find myself grinning with grim pleasure, and those frozen rictus smiles that have been part of my repertoire since 'Severed Survival' first came out appear on my face no matter how hard I try to banish them... the glory days are gone forever, but they can still be replicated I suppose, and this is actually much better than a lot of the music that is coming out today under the banner of 'modern' death metal.


Erebus Magazine

Dear God...You're All Fucking Doomed! - 97%

GraveViorator, February 12th, 2008

"97%???? For an Abscess record???? This guy must be crazy!"

This is what you're probably thinking if you've never listened to Tormented before. However, I guarantee that if you give it a few listens you'll agree with me and maybe even say that the mark I gave it is too low. You see, what we have here is basically an absolute death metal masterpiece. It might not be 'important', but only pretentious assholes about that. It's the album that Autopsy should have put out after Mental Funeral but, for some reason, didn't. It came out at a time when this style (that being the early, puke-encrusted and simple kind of death metal) was not at all popular and it was released by a record label that folded shortly after this was put out. Such a shame. More people need to hear it.

'Tormented' is very straight-forward. It won't win you over with technicality. What it will do, however, is disturb you...intensely. What it lacks in technicality it makes up for it tenfold in atmosphere and passion. Right from the first four chords, 'Tormented' wraps you up in a horrifying atmosphere that brings to mind the worst nightmares you've ever had. The best way to describe the feel of the album is to say this: Take the deformed, slimy, eight-headed monster on the cover of 'Mental Funeral' and then get GG Allin to sodomize it for a long period of time. Then get a choir of demented drunks to vomit in unison and create beautiful music out of their spewing. This is not to put the music down but just to give you an idea of how horrifying and disgusting 'Tormented' really is. It's a rotten, punk-addled ride into psychological hell that starts off blazing and thrashing and ends off on a note so damned evil you'd think that they were in fact conjuring some age-old malevolent spirit. In addition to this, the reverb-heavy production makes it sound like it was recorded in the funeral home in 'Phantasm'. The entire record just reeks of death and insanity. The songs range from devastating sludge to sounding like a detuned Motorhead cover band fronted by a bunch of murderers and necrophiliacs. The solos crash and wail, sounding like screeching ghosts calling at you to take your fucking soul! The vocals are phlegm-gargled monstrosities that sound every bit as wounded and emotionally unstable as they are disgusting. This isn't to say that 'Tormented' isn't fun at all, as there are many tracks that will kick your ass so hard that it'll be numb for a week. The songs are disturbing and vile yet insanely catchy at the same time and you'll find yourself gargling and shrieking along to them without even noticing it.

This album is still a lot like Abscess's earlier stuff (like 'Seminal Vampires and Maggotmen) but with better production and a lot of the detuned creepiness of Mental Funeral. In addition to that, the song-writing quality has sky-rocketed and the songs are equally despondent and morbid at the same time. The vocals are probably the best part of the album, as they sound furious, disgusting but also very honest and emotionally intense. Of course the album is supposed to be totally disgusting, but there are a lot of emotional layers on it and the vocals do a great deal to help this. The songs are very brutal and they vary in speed, going from punk rock beats to thrashing, old school death to molasses-slow sludge.

If I were to pick a few stand-out tracks they would be: "Halo of Disease", "Madness and Parasites", "Scratching at the Coffin", "Ratbag", "Death Runs Red" and "Madhouse at the End of the World". Look at those song-titles, they're death metal poetry! That leads me to another thing: the lyrics. Strangely enough the lyrics on this album are actually interesting. They're intelligently written and clearly done under the influence of heavy drugs. They're gory and insane but also surreal and disturbing.

So with all this high talk, why am I giving this album 97% rather than 100%? Well, there's a song or two that feels kind of like filler, but even those songs are still a lot of fun. Still, I guess that takes it down by 3%.

So, the bottom line is: if you find this album buy it without question. If you have to rob an old lady and beat up small children to get this album, do that anyways. It'll be worth it.