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Putrid-smelling metal of death! - 74%

Lane, August 18th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, VIC Records

Swedish death metal, that smells like decomposing human remains, is what Sandviken-based Sordid Flesh offer. It's not every day one discovers this rank and putrid-smelling band, let me tell you. They formed only in 2011, so it's easy to call it old school, you know?!

This sounds like it was coming from late 1980s or early 1990s. The songs, the production, everything. Even though the music's roots are heavily in the first wave of Swedish death metal, 'Torturer' is somewhat different. Hardcore punk rock influences are still there, in vein of simplistic compositional works during some of the songs. Generally, there are all kinds of rock influences happening every now and then, but uglier than on many other occasion. Black metal influence (mostly about tremolo riffing) is bigger than pure SDM bands carry (back in the day and nowadays, too). Musically, 'Torturer' is about horror, aggression and otherworldly darkness, with primal drive.

Sordid Flesh have managed to add some characteristics here and there. The opener 'The Thelema Way' has a beautifully eerie and evil intro. Its lap steel guitar playing sounds like it was some ghost wailing. The song is easily one of the more powerful ones here, lifting expectations pretty high. The harsher side of the band is presented in the song, too. Hammering and ripping riffs and pounding rhythm section throw a lot of cinder at a listener. The guitarist duo play harmonies, or disharmonies, quite often. Sometimes I feel that the compositions get a bit too simple, even though the band forcely put them out on whatever was their means of recording. Something analog, I presume. When they were able to reach those moods at their best, they really soundly achieved them. 'Rites at the Cemetery' starts wit a "horror movie music" kind of deranged piano melody, which is continued with a guitar, but generally the songs are more on the violent side: This fucks with a listener's body more than with brain.

The vocals are raspy growling, both low and more high-pitched. Some shrieking can be heard too. It's not Peter TÃĪgtren (Hypocrisy etc.) style throat-maiming, but more low-pitched, a bit similar, if not quite that low, to Dave Rotten (of Avulsed plus a million other death metal bands). The lyrics deal with destroying Christians (men, women, even children), killing, Satanic rituals and necrophilia (funny line from 'Gravebitch: "This glomy graveyard, our gloomy scenery, just you, me and the insects for eternity"). Some lines are great, some are utterly childish. Now here's the actual mindfuck part of this album.

The production is really fucking dirty! This sounds more like a live recording, with some mistakes in playing, but also those small or bigger details that are cleaned by more... Hmmm... More clean production. 'Torturer' gets quite clogged at times, as reverb is in use. The drums are really boxy, yet powerful, something you won't hear on music with modern production values. It all very much fits with the music style, though. Well, it sounds like a ramming tank at its heaviest. However, there are some changes, even in the drums' tones, during the album. So it kind of feel a tad incoherent. Cover artwork is a bit of a messy affair, too.

If you can picture a mixture of Grave's 'Into the Grave' (1990), Entombed's 'Wolverine Blues' (1993), Vomitory's 'Raped in Their Own Blood' (1996), that could be somewhere in same hellish dimension, at least, than 'Torturer'. I doubt that this one will never be held so high than those three classic recordings, but this is still a fine start for those who love to do some "old school" more than to discovering new things.

(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)