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Fishing with MURDER - 95%

BastardHead, May 25th, 2011

It is currently 3:30 in the morning, I'm sitting in bed in my underwear with my laptop, stricken with the most unenviable insomnia man has ever known. It was at this particular moment, no more than five minutes ago, that I decided that I have listened to Torture Squad's Pandemonium roughly four hundred zillion times in my lifetime, and everybody should do the same. Chances are that if you've ever heard of Torture Squad, it's because of this album. Need proof? Absolutely every single review for the band on this website mentions this album, most referencing how awesome it is. It would literally be amazing if I was kidding.

Wanna know why everybody compares everything the band has ever done (both before and after this album) against this album? It's because it indisputably set the bar for what the band was capable of in terms of riff writing, songwriting, and intensity. The only time the band takes their foot off the gas is during "Requiem for the Headless Rider", the instrumental interlude that precedes the thrash-death-murder-killing-mania of the closer, "The Curse of Sleepy Hollow". I fully believe it's there out of necessity, the band probably wrote another modern thrash classic but the label refused to release it with so much insanity on one disc. They let Sadus get away with it once and the government really cracked down on thrashers since then. Almost every track featured has at least one standout segment that helps it plant itself firmly in your memory (the main riffs in "World of Misery" and "Pandemonium", the chorus of "Out of Control", the entirety of "Horror and Torture"). I believe that the album's main credit to its impressive longevity (in the era of the short-minded internet listeners) is its masterful blend of accessibility with brutality. Let's face it kids, this shit is catchy, and that's one of the reasons you can remember it so well.

Pandemonioum's sound is also perfectly fitting for its content. It has an old school death/thrash metal sound without seeming like it's trying to emulate its heroes. Instead of saying "Hey, this needs to sound like Beneath the Remains", they said "Hey, this needs to sound awesome", and thus they ended up with this overwhelming crunch that accents the punctuated riffing. The low end is a bit lacking in presence but it's hardly noticeable when the guitars are so thick themselves. Vocally the band is fairly predictable in the sense of which style (high growls or low growls) he's going to use at any given moment of a song, but the formula that Torture Squad sticks to just fucking works, and there's no need to fiddle around with something that completely slays as is. And when it comes to the formula, Pandemonium has managed what I once thought was impossible: to make an album that is really basic and formulaic down at its core, but creative and passionate enough to make every last song stand out on their own. It also helps that there are only 7 real full songs on the album so it never overstays its welcome, nor has time to run out of ideas.

This kicks ass, plain and simple. If solid, basic thrash is considered to be "meat and potatoes", then I declare Pandemonium to be "steak and fries". When you really try to analyze it, this isn't any groundbreaking innovation, it's just four dudes who decided to thrash their asses off and take the names of any posers in their wake. Fortunately for the listener, Torture Squad is smart and creative enough to really give each slab its own identity. There are no unmemorable blurs on this album, just straight through non-stop headbanging and moshing. Brutal death/thrash at its absolute finest. This didn't get popular on accident.

Originally written for

Go get Hellbound. - 75%

Idrownfish, May 25th, 2010

Have you ever heard Torture Squad's debut album, Shivering? If you have, you know that it's not impressive, and the production sucks so badly that the bass even hides the guitars at some points. Not that the guitars are any good: the riffs are monotonous and repetitive, and the solos are simply boring.

Of course, this is a review about Pandemonium, but it is interesting to note that Torture Squad has been improving their music release after release. Unlike the bands that fall in mediocrity just after getting famous (being Metallica the most bizarre example), the more well-known Torture Squad gets, the better they get. Ten years after releasing their terrible debut, Torture Squad finished recording their masterpiece, Hellbound.

My point is that this album doesn't deserve most of the praise that it usually gets. Altough it is kind of nice to listen to, it is no Hellbound. I would say that this is a prelude: seeing how much they had evolved since Shivering, it was no surprise that the album that followed this one was so great. Also, in Pandemonium the characteristics that would make Hellbound so great begin to appear: Pandemonium is much faster than their previous albums, employs complex structures and catchy riffs.

Yet, the production is far from perfect, the bass makes everything way too heavy and most songs get boring after three minutes (every song here overuses riffs, except Horror and Torture). The acoustic track, Requiem for the Headless Rider, is extremely repetitive (unlike its Hellbound counterpart, The Four Winds), and the introduction is not as tense as it's supposed to be. Not that this album doesn't have anything to enjoy: the title track has amazing riffs and vocals, and sticks to your head easily, and Towers on Fire is also quite enjoyable.

Horror and Torture is, however, easily the best track in this recording: its structure is as complex as Chaos Corporation's one, the vocals are incredible and the guitars discard riffs at an alarming rate (it takes guts to use 5-6 excellent riffs in a single song). The solo is also amazingly fast, and has the power to drive any headbanger insane in a 500 meters radius. To counter it we have World of Misery, a song with one of the worst produced and crappiest introductions of all time.

It is ok to download this album, but I wouldn't bother to buy it. It is nothing incredible, just something regularly good. Save your money for Hellbound. If you already have Hellbound, save your money for Aequilibrium, their soon-to-come album. I bet that it will be great.

Mindblowing - a perfect fusion of thrash and death - 95%

High_On_Maiden, December 11th, 2004

Whoah! Where did this BEAST come from?

This is a truly godly blend of thrash metal and death metal, delivered to perfection. The pure RIFFS never end, which can rarely be said for a lot of bands, particularly modern bands claiming to be the new wave of thrash - they can't hold a candle to this utter monster of riff work.

That's the best way to get across this album really, the utterly thrashy riffs are burning in your ears from beginning to end, mixing a really brutal edge with a melodic energy that is often lost in a lot of modern albums. And this said, you might assume that it is a monotonous medley of chugging...WRONG! Every riff weaves in with the others, somehow managing to each stay different and original.

So that on its own places this album firmly as a thrash TITAN, but as if we deserve more, this band blend a deep death metal aspect into their sound with resoundingly successful results. The vocals are the first thing to notice, as they are a raspy, sometimes gutteral growl. Not much variety to be had from song to song, but that could be said of thousands of vocals, and they still mix the deep, rhythmic chanting with screechy shouts and spitting verses which is extremely effective in combination with the relentless riffs.

The drums are great in that they really punctuate the fact that this band incorporate thrash AND death, quite simply. Mid-paced blast beats work alongside bass drum passages and thrash beats and amplify the impact of the riffwork.

The riffs themselves also hint at the death metal tendancies, sometimes deciding to be quite rhythmical or chaotic, but predominantely they offer an insatiable barrage of perfect riffs.

Other people have said this, but I would really reiterate it - it's just like Suffocation gone thrash! Where Suffocation work some thrash riffs and beats into their sound, Torture Squad really take it all the way, and in a way I prefer the end result of the latter just for non-stop enjoyment. Suffocation have great riff sections, but they also have a level of monotony and uninspiration which simply can't be found on this album. Production-wise as well, Torture Squad have really cleaned up their act where Suffocation seem to prefer the muddy, indistinct sound. I prefer Torture Squad's production.

Anyway, practically perfect - an album which should truly set the standard for modern death/thrash metal, and one which a lot of these modern "thrash" acts would do well to take notes of.

Brazil's Finest! - 90%

fear_the_riffer, October 3rd, 2004

Let me start this review by saying that this album is fucking brutal and it is the best thing to ever come from Brazil!

I was blown away by the musicianship these guys possess! The riffs are very original, tasteful, and heavy. The guitar solos here are fast but tasteful and well executed. The drums remind me of Death's drum parts, which are very varied and technical. Bass is not very pronounced here but it creates a full sound. Tempo changes and harmonies play a huge role in this album.

The production on this album is clear, no instrument was overpowering another. There are two styles of vocals here: the traditional death metal growling vocals and black metal style screeches. The mixture of the two styles make this album very unique and interesting. High-pitched screams and screaches are found on almost every song to maintain the excitement.

Every song here is a killer from the straigtforwad death metal tracks to the death/thrash hybrid tracks but if i had to choose my favorites, I'd go with: the memorable, Horror And Torture; Towers On Fire; World Of Misery; and Pandemonium.

Bottom line: These guys mean serious business and their music is nothing short of kick-ass death metal perfection! Buy it.

Best metal record to date... - 100%

Shred1921, September 23rd, 2004

This is my first 100% rating, and I'll explain why.

This album just plain shreds. I have never heard so many riffs, so many imaginative drum chops, so much sheer metal onslaught in a mere 39 minutes. This basically unknown band has gone about their merry way and created something that stands out as the most crushing metal record I've ever heard in my life.

The riffs: A blend between thrash and death, with a bit of melody thrown in here and there for good measure. No riff is played more than twice in a song, and never for more than a maximum of 20 seconds or so. Yes, there's THAT many riffs here. There are at least 20 riffs here, that on any other album, would stand out so prominently that it would make the entire record. In Torture Squad's case, there's at least 2 of these riffs per song! (ie. there's more metal in one riff on this album than there is in some entire records of lesser bands... I'm not kidding)

The drumming: Freaking ridiculous. I have never heard so many flawless time changes and frantic double kicking in my life. The chops are totally fresh, really imaginative, and never cease to disappoint. There are some weird-ass time signatures on here, and the drummer holds everything together perfectly. Some songs have upwards of 10 time changes and the drumming never slips. Some of the fills are positively mind-blowing, it's as if the drummer has 6 hands.

The bass: Not terribly prominent, but on occasion, the bassist gets a bit of a break here and there (leading into a new riff, for instance) and the tone is great, and sounds expertly played.

The vocals: Not really a big part of this band, they definitely seem focused more on the instrumentation (and for good reason) but when there is a verse of mainly nonsensical, typical South American style lyrics, they are growled well and do nothing to take away from the songs. Hollering some of the choruses can be fun, like in the first track, "horror and torture... horror and torture!" Metal.

The solos: Again, not a major part of the album (I mentioned it was all about RIFFS!!) and they are nothing impressive, but don't detract from anything either. No annoying 1-minute solos, just 20-30 seconds of noodling here and there. Can't complain.

The songs: Where do I begin? The album starts with a 44-second intro which is basically nothing, and then it's just pure, all-out, neck-breaking metal assault for about 30 minutes. The songs don't really have anything to make any one of them stand out, it basically boils down to which one has the best riffs. There's ass kicking riffs in every single one; none of them are bad, and you won't be skipping anything here. I've listened to this album four or five times since I've had it, and I hear new, crazy shit every time. It's like riffs pop out of nowhere that you didn't hear before. The second-to-last track is a really cool 2-minute interlude/intro to the last song, and is played masterfully. This is the only time on the album where they drop much below 200 bpm. It's like a cross between Priest's "Battle Hymn" and something you might find on an Opeth album (not a bad thing, I like Opeth); and this cuts immediately into another crushing riff and the last song.

That pretty much sums it up. This is the most metal record I've ever heard. Everything comes together flawlessly to present a collection of riffs more crushing than anything that has ever been heard before. The production is really good too! Everything is perfectly mixed and nothing stands out too much.

Choice cuts: Everything kicks more ass than every other metal record combined, but if I had to pick a favourite song, it would be "World Of Misery" because there are a few riffs on there that absolutely blow my fucking mind. And when riffs stand out on this album, you know they're metal.

A definite must-own. Get this... if you can.

Refreshing - 87%

Thamuz, August 27th, 2004

By today’s, equivocally low standards, Thrash is considered to be played by bands such as The Haunted, Shadows Falls, Dew Scented and the like. These bands have forgotten that Thrash is supposed to be rhythm-based music centred on overt riff-sets and pure head-banging glory. Instead of playing very bland and repetitive riffs that do not characterise or stand out in their songs in any way, shape or form. Sure, there is still some ‘real’ Thrash around, but you have to search beyond the outer realms of the Metal populous and dig a lot deeper to find it. In this group of buried underground Thrash bands there is Brazil’s Torture Squad, who know how to lay down ‘real’ Thrash in these modern times.

The band have seemingly walked into a teleportation device and landed somewhere in the mid-to-late eighties, a time where Thrash was at the forefront of a worldwide assault by Heavy Metal. The only other explanation is the backward nature of the Brazilian society, but then Sepultura would have played music in the vein of the Beatles…

The music itself is, as Thrash should be, riff-orientated and this is evident immediately as the listener is crushed by a series of tempo changes, resulting from a series of crushing and fast riffs that can only be Thrash. The composition generally follows a distinctive riff-set that characterises each song, but then, all of a sudden, the listener is hit by a surprise attack and one can only bang his or her head and remember the glory days. The riff-structures often reach high levels of complexity, but are never anything but catchy, with the technicality not taking anything away from the music. There is also the rapid-tremolo picking structures that would not seem foreign in the Death Metal genre, and this is actually blended in quite well with the general feel of the music – not being over-done or incessant at all. The band obviously did not have access to the highest form of production technology, but there can be no complaints as there is not a part of this album that cannot be heard clearly or any part taking away from the heaviness the band is producing.

The drummer uses blast beats selectively to highlight and build on the intensity of the climatic sections of the song, not falling into the trap of just constantly ‘blasting’ on the double-kick pedals. He maintains the tempo of the guitars, which is no mean feat, as they are ever changing in rhythmic patterns. At times it seems like the drummer has an extra arm, enabling him to pull off fills that are nothing but insane.

Also quite impressive was the improvisation on behalf of the bassist, being quite a talent, who is often credited by being given the privilege of bass breaks being implemented in some songs, which lead into and set up the next riff-set - quite a nice touch.

Vocally, there seems to be two (or maybe three vocalists) as we are treated to low and guttural growls and, in complete contrast, a higher pitched shriek that would fit in quite well on an earlier Kreator album.

If you miss the Thrash scene in the eighties, or are just starting to find your roots in the sub-genre, then this is highly recommended, as you’ll struggle to find a modern Thrash album with so many damn head-banging riffs…

Absolutely obscene amounts of thrash - 91%

Pyrus, March 29th, 2004

Say "Modern thrash bands" to the average group of young metalheads, and what will you get? The Haunted. The Crown. Shadows Fall. If you're really lucky, someone will mention Deströyer 666. If you're unlucky, someone will mention Killswitch Engage (at which point, it should go without saying, you stab them in the face and urinate on their dead body).

But this is what they SHOULD be saying. This is old-school thrash riffage, Kreator-esque technical slaughter with a touch of of Vio-Lence's schizophrenic riff structure, melded with modern chaos and brutality. The vocals are almost black metal snarls, backed by a guttural growl. The lead work isn't particularly flashy or innovative, but it's solid; the bass is really excellent, good enough to warrant actual audibility and several breaks throughout the album. And the drums! The drums are inhumanly awesome, controlled chaos approaching death metal, with blast beats used as they should be–occasionally, for effect.

If this album has a weakness, it's a sort of general blending-together of the tracks, reminiscient of Testament's Practice What You Preach (although for different reasons). It's not that the songs aren't distinct, but...perhaps a better comparision would be Sodom's Agent Orange, which has been described by respected reviewers as "not so much nine individual songs as a solid chunk of thrash metal divided up into nine sections." Pandemonium sort of has that effect; the music is much more technical, but it definitely takes some close listening for the distiniguishing features of all the songs to come out.

But they are there, oh yes, they are there. Take "World of Misery," which begins with a straight-up death metal riff and blastbeats and, in the first minute of the song, goes through at least nine time changes. I shit you not. Then it's pure thrash throughout, but with still more time changes to come, including an absolutely insane breakdown that begins with the bass break at 2:55 and includes beats that beg the question of whether their drummer is actually the evil Doctor Octopus, hiding in a Brazilian thrash band while he plots his revenge against Spider-Man.

Also awesome is opening track (well, after the intro, which is so unremarkable that the band just called it "Intro") "Horror And Torture," which has a fairly simplistic structure compared to some of the other songs, but the absolute most fiendishly old-school moments on the disc in the verse riffage ("LET ME TAKE YOU DOWN TO HELL!") and the "Angel of Death" worship breakdown at 2:30 or so. And the double-tracked lead guitars are just a thing of beauty.

What else rules? EVERYTHING. More specifically, "Pandemonium" has some really ludicrous structuring, verse and chorus time signatures that just fuck with your neck until you consider actual litigation against this band for deliberately causing harm to your person. "The Curse of Sleepy Hollow" has some gruesome death vocals in the beginning and a chugging riff at 2:53 that is the absolute heaviest thing on this disc, which is a hell of an achievement. Oh, and the intro to that song, "Requiem For the Headless Rider," is a really cool instrumental with some great haunting melodies that only increase the brutality of the following madness. Finally there's "Out of Control," which has vocal-lead guitar tradeoffs in the second verse that are straight out of 1983 (except with blastbeats and growls), and crazed drumming that sets my Spider-Sense tingling once again.

Riffs for everybody are to be found here, but with an added sense of technicality and appreciation for the fine-art of skullcrushing brutality that bodes well for the future. If you ever find yourself doubting whether thrash metal is still viable in the era of One Kill Wonder and As the Palaces Burn, then listen to this album and rejoice as your soul is saved from poseurhood.

The most brutal album ever!!! - 95%

UltraBoris, February 15th, 2004

Holy fucking CHRIST!!!! We're about to die!! I am going to go down to the local cunt shoppe and purchase me a cunt, just so I can stick a trowel in it and die in agony!!!

This album is from 2003?? What the fucking classic shit, Batman! This sounds like Suffocation deciding to try making Darkness Descends, while putting their amplifier settings on Endless Pain and listening to Spectrum of Death and Reign in Blood at the same time. Christ on the Cross!!!

Speaking of Christ on the Cross, sorry Exodus, your latest album was never quite the undefeated champion of recent thrash. THIS album was, except it was written by technologically backwards peasants in a third world country and released on a record label that runs out of the back of an antifreeze manufacturing plant. So I never heard of it, even though it came out before Tempo of the Damned. It's like Sepultura, circa 1986. This fucking RULES and no one knows what the fuck this band is.

Speaking of which... Sepultura, better move aside. This album is just as good as Beneath the Remains, making it just about the best damn thing Brasil ever did. Angra, stick it up your can. I hear your mama calling you.

So what the fuck is the actual music like? This is a real fucking nightmare-ish riff fest. Eli Whitney is so fucking proud, because the songs are really "interchangeable thrash parts". Most of them have one main riff-set that defines the theme of the song, and then they throw in some other riffs as counterpoints that totally come out of fucking nowhere. Yes, this band is pretty damn technical, in that Suffocation meets Time Does Not Heal sense. They may not play in 17/13 time like Meshuggah, but fucking god almighty it's Overkill and ANOTHER RIFF, when you least expect it. See for example, "World of Misery", which has the most complicated, technical uber-riff this side of Watchtower. Four distinct parts, mixing a teaser of absurd thrash for about a half-second, and then three parts death-thrash in a way that you just want that riff to come back again, and it does, just the right number of times. 9 songs, 38 minutes, a bazillion riffs. I haven't orgasmed this many times in this short an interval since that time I got my wiener caught in the milking machine.

Oh yeah and it's BRUTAL AS FUCK too. Imagine Suffo cleaning up their guitar tone, to sound like their first EP, but then going balls-to-the-fucking-Godsofwarhavegoneinsane!!!!-wall like they tend to do and just screaming forward with the blastbeats (the good kind, not the Morbid Angel/Dimmu Borgir homoerotic kind) and the guitar riffage down your throat as though there is no tomorrow, there is no today, and even yesterday wasn't really guaranteed. Burning! City of Sodom!!! Yes, this borrows heavily from the Dark Fucking Angel "this is how to play fast" catalogue, with heavy recognition given also to Seven Churches and Endless Pain, while during midpaced moments, it could totally be Forward to Termination or Schizophrenia, or even Pleasure to Kill at times, or Skid Row's Monkey Business.

What, back the transportation device up!!! Horror and Torture!! Slipping off the tracks! Horror and Torture!! A jungle in black! Not quite, but the melody line is kinda similar, except about 74810 times heavier, and they break into the traditional Death Metal "uuurrrrgghhhhhh", but this is really fucking catchy as fuck. There's the occasional Gasoline Dream bass break (Overkill rides again!) and one of the vocalists (I think there's at least two, I refer to the shrieker) sounds like Hypnosia/Morbid Saint/Pleasure to Kill era Mille...

So pretty much what you're getting here is a solid education in Death Thrash. It's like in the third grade, where you had to give a report dressed up as your favourite hero, like Magic Johnson or Adolf Hitler or whatnot. Well, these guys dressed up as THRASHERS and they got an A fucking Plus.

This is simply fucking incredible. Spine-snapping riffs, especially the spontaneous counterpoint ones. Pandemonium has this kinda melodic power metal main riff that sounds like Over My Dead Body (Metal Church) except a bazillion times heavier, and Out of Control has this part in the middle...

man, I'm glad I didn't hear this album - especially that riff!! - for the first time while driving, I would've had the most orgasmic accident ever... Sodom, NEVER AGAIN!!! TAPPING THE VEIN!!! Blam blam blam, tired and red motherfucker. It comes out of nowhere, driving like the rain, except it's a very well-crafted cinderblock to crush your skull (thanks, Chaossphere!!) aimed at a particular trajectory and motherfucking son of a bitch, this works insanely well. Crush the cross!!! The guitar tone is ridiculously heavy, making Reign in Blood sound like fluffy kittens frolicking in the park, and Darkness Descends merely Jesus stepping on them because you masturbated.

There's one song here that isn't brutal thrash - it's an intro to brutal thrash, "Requiem for the Headless", preceding the closer, "The Curse of Sleepy Hollow". The intro is really surprisingly GOOD - you wouldn't think that some generic brick-wielding neanderthals could come up with something that crosses The Hellion (Priest) and Thunderhead (WASP) and any Clint Eastwood western theme (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) so fucking well, but damn if it isn't effective as an introduction, because there is one 44 seconds of noise intro, then SIX slabs of blasting, raging, cuntsmashing thrash so pretty much you NEED a break by the time you're getting near the end. There's the break, and then one final slab of complete fucking nuclear armageddon, and then they top the brutality once and for all with the last track, a bit of a Carnivore riff and then a final riff destructionfuck set that comes in like a finishing move only attained by pushing every button at the same time with your fucking skull. MONKEY OF CHRIST ... WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!?!?!

Seriously, this is the most excellent thrash album that no one knows anything about. Who the fuck is this band and why can't I find any of their albums on eBay??? Sick-tacular!!