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I'd Buy That for a Dollar - 50%

Tanuki, December 27th, 2017

A few years ago I saw a bit on Top Gear that I still remember to this day: Jeremy Clarkson, in a rare moment of lucidity, criticized our eagerness to sexualize women in male-dominated arenas. In that context it was female racecar drivers, and in today's context, it's all-female thrash bands. Listen. I'll be first in line to appreciate the fly honeys of Nervosa, Jenner, Apofenia, and indeed Tormentress, because for starters, women in denim and Bathory shirts are like a Vektoria's Secret catalog for metalheads. But I'm going to take the high road here, and not judge this band superficially, but instead by the quality of the thrash metal herein.

...Which is bad news for Tormentress. Operation Torment is a remarkably boring, color-by-numbers NWOTM affair that encapsulates the inherent limitations of the movement. Despite featuring a production and musicianship that I personally get a kick out of (unprocessed jam sessions full of beans and authentic imperfections), the core songwriting is sorely lacking in memorability. Gwen and Massie's riffs attempt to blur the line of the already-blurry line of late 80's teutonic speed/thrash, but this is a far distance away from Finished with the Dogs.

Instead, the speedier tracks like 'Infinite Oneness' and 'Seven Feet Under' reminded me more of Grinder's Dawn for the Living, whereas the slower chugs of 'Dead at 27' read like a placid aping of D.R.I.'s Definition. Regardless of tempo, the riffs never seem to naturally go anywhere, often languishing in the lower octaves and burbling into some vague sense of crescendo. 'Thrash and Torment' exemplifies this with an inexcusable lack of complexity and imagination. Sometimes this crossover-style simplicity works in Tormentress's favor, like the high-octane 'Materialistic War', but most of the time it left me wanting more than the scant and stolid riffs tasked with propelling three minutes worth of song.

Credit where it's due, frontwoman Neezie deserves some kudos for all the energy she bestows to her rumbling growls and intermittent wails. She hovers around the same register as Wagner Antichrist, rasping with similar articulations and possessing that same air of bestial menace on display in the sublime The Laws of Scourge. Her delivery is the most original aspect of Operation Torment, even managing to flourish and dovetail through certain passages like the ascending roar at the start of 'Mutilator'. She and the crew also do justice to 'Tormentor', a cover of the oft-overlooked classic from Kreator's debut.

I'm glad the vocalist is willing to soak up the spotlight, because no one else is. Drum flourishes are swallowed up in the endless tidal wave of hat-heavy blastbeats. Guitar solos can be measured in milliseconds, and even if the treble wasn't cranked higher than Snoop Dogg, the copy-paste song structure wouldn't have allowed for any bridges to be inhabited by punctuating basslines. So I'm afraid Operation Torment was a disappointment and a missed opportunity overall, recommended only if you enjoy thrash metal as background noise. If your metal diet requires a certain intake of estrogen, might I instead suggest a little band you may have heard of called Satan's Hallow?

Is it the 80s again? - 77%

Valfars Ghost, October 24th, 2016

With a debt to Kreator evident in Tomentress' band logo, cover of the seminal German band's 'Tormentor', and singer Neezie's vocal style, Operation Torment lets you know exactly what to expect and doesn't throw many curveballs. This Singaporean outfit is all about no-nonsense, energetic thrash metal that could have been recorded in the mid 80s. While Operation Torment is a fun romp loaded with infectious energy, it's perhaps a bit too dedicated to the spirit of the thrash age, delivering no surprises and proving to be a lot of fun but not terribly memorable or as compelling as many the classics it draws inspiration from.

Though released in 2014, Operation Torment could have been made 25 years earlier. That 80s ethos is so perfectly reconstructed that the album plays like it was recorded sometime shortly after Reign in Blood. After a throwaway introductory piece, the album slams its foot on the gas and doesn't give you a chance to catch your breath. While Neezie's snarling, which is somewhat weak on a few early tracks but soon fills out in terms of nastiness and vigor, couldn't be more obviously indebted to Mille Petrozza, the rest of the music isn't quite as Teutonic in its approach. Throughout these songs, grimy riffs that are half German and half Californian barrage the listener and display more than a little bit of direct punk influence.

‘Trash and Torment’, which I assume is supposed to read ‘Thrash and Torment’ is the strongest offering, with an invigorating gallop pulsing under the memorable verses until all the tension is released when Neezie growls “Weeeell come to Hell,” which the band immediately follows up with another killer thrash rhythm. ‘Seven Feet Under’ is another solid number with its chaotic rhythms and the most vile chorus of the album. ‘Dead at 27 slows things down a bit, bringing a real feeling of dread and some much-needed variety. Whether they’re barreling forward like car on the Autobahn or they’re taking a rare chance to move a little less quickly, Tormentress is a strong unit, with a tight rhythm section that thrashes away with a reckless fury that perfectly complements the vicious singing.

The band's shamelessly oldschool approach extends to the way everything on the album was mixed as well. The production is pure 80s vintage with none of the rough edges sanded off. The guitars are heavy and razor-sharp, without even a hint of polish, and the drums are impactful, with each crushing blow to Tutiee's kit ringing clear. Completing its imitation of 80s thrashing goodness, there's a total absence of that dry, clinical Death Magnetic mixing.

While there’s nothing bad to be said about Operation Torment, it's not essential for anyone but the most passionate fans of Southeast Asia's metal scene. Tormentress has a great understanding of what thrashing is all about and are more than capable of delivering some vicious riffs. Even though there's not a single dull moment on the album, there isn't a whole lot of memorable material either. While this album, as a cathartic blast of aggression, is fun in the moment, it falls a bit shy of demonstrating true brilliance.