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Age spots are visible, but there's no walker yet - 82%

Gutterscream, August 25th, 2005
Written based on this version: 1985, 12" vinyl, Diabolic Force

“…tears on her cheek, sweat on her brow, it's time to die I will kill her now…”

Some albums stand triumphantly in the eye of time. Some bow down before it. A few are beheaded by it. Sacrifice’s debut is somewhere out there hunched over, hat in hand, but the axeman is scheduled to deliver the death blow to other lps instead. Yeah, Torment in Fire definitely isn’t the Barry Bonds of thrash records from ‘85, but it isn’t a rookie Triple AAA baller either. Actually, the four-piece from the home of the Blue Jays were rookies at this time, tenderfoots who were gleaning inspiration from Slayer, Razor, Exciter, Metallica, and no doubt some others, and while these bands haven’t felt the cold metallic sting of the axeman either, they’re usually thought of in higher arcs of presentation and maturity.

Sacrifice concocts cannibalistic fervor, unrefined thrash vigor, arguable maturity, and a glut of undefined ideas that were probably flowing way too fast for the young quartet, hurl it all into a huge simmering black pot, stir it with a set of pipes that sound like a thousand crows falling to their doom, and almost literally we have Torment in Fire. Hell, sometimes it even sounds like it was recorded inside a cauldron, and the often annoying overloud cymbal work is someone pounding on the side of it with a sledgehammer. But despite all its idiosyncrasies, it’s still an acceptable piece of work.

Since Evil Dead had only been filmed four years prior to this, I don’t sigh as much when I hear intro “The Awakening” and its now generic quote and unceremonious feedback. Nowadays, quoting something from Arnie Schwarzenegger is more refreshing. This bucket of joy squeals into “Sacrifice”, only a slightly above-average track to kick things off, meanwhile “Turn in Your Grave” turns it up a notch with rapid fire vocals and a chorus slightly more hospitable than the rest of the track. At the start, “Homicidal Breath” shows us a docile side to the band, but injections of aggression and a near lack of a chorus throw that idea and the song’s identity. “Warrior of Death” is one of the lp’s speed brokers, fast and untidily intrusive, but has yet to stamp individuality to their sound. “Infernal Vision” is perhaps the most diverse so far, jutting in and out of tempo worlds with a Slayer-esque appeal and finishes off the side.

Cryptically distorted noise mutates into the introductory riff of “Burned at the Stake”, a track menacing with a slow, grim-eyed pace that explodes into a speeding reverie of Rob Urbinanti’s glass-warping screeches, tight tornado riffs, and a pseudo solo that shrills the songs end. “Necronomicon” is another example of Slayer-ism by following the dramatic chorus with a slow, deliberate section and solo, then reinventing itself with another blizzard of white-fisted riffs. Without a word, “The Exorcism” brings forth more speed effort with only one minor blip of melancholy on the track’s Richter scale. Before you know it, “Possession” kicks the instrumental out of the way by calling on some latent hardcore influence, quickly sung, near-hollered vocals the main denominator, but there’s still no denying the thrash undertow. “Decapitation” is another swirl of velocity with more hardcore-ish vocals and a corny chorus that could have been thrown off a ledge. The finale is “Beyond Death”…twisting, groaning feedback doubles as solos, some odd, hurried militant drumwork hamstrings some listeners, more feedback, momentum jerks like my grandmother driving a stick shift for the first time, some weird timing changes…I can see their intent here, attempting to end the album with an arresting jack-of-all-trades impression that instead comes off being audibly verbose and somewhat unspectacular, but hey, they’re young.

And since they’re young, they would improve, mature, prosper, and do it better in two years for Forward to Termination. As for this twelve-tracker, it has its share of rousing moments that collectively don’t spell out ‘classic’. Right now, I don’t think the gang has to worry about the axeman, but who knows in another twenty years.

“…priest reads his rites, vomit strikes his face…”