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Tortured Demon I : Storming the Gates - 85%

DanielG06, February 23rd, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Independent

Well, with Accept's Too Mean to Die coming out and now this, 2021 is looking to be a kickass year for metal. Tortured Demon are exceptionally underrated, I feel as though if this band got the recognition of bands such as Trivium, Lamb of God, Alien Weaponry etc, In Desperation's Grip would be hailed as a classic among this rare brood of thrash-core bands. Every song has something different to offer, every song has a musical objective that is satisfied in its own way, despite being a predominantly chuggy and brutal record, none of the songs are homogenised. There is plenty of musical diversity spread throughout this album that I'm sure just about any fan of metal, regardless of their preferred subgenres, will enjoy this. The album opens with the title track, the clean intro is haunting and evil, the rest of the song is heavy and in-your-face, there are clear influences from acts such as Pantera, Slipknot, Lamb of God, and even Meshuggah and melo-death bands in places. The chorus is catchy and powerful, and is probably the highlight of the song. The track as a whole is well-written and a great way to open this album. Most of the songs carry this formula of crushing riff after crushing riff, sandwiched between verses and choruses, and most of these riffs are above-average downtuned thrash riffs. Therefore, when the rapid nature of the songs is combined with the demonic vocals and murky production, I wouldn't dub this as thrash metal, or hardcore/deathcore, but I would actually say it's more akin to straight forward groove metal, with every riff pounding through your brain like a sledgehammer.

Songs like Cold Blood, The Invasion, and Sufferers of the New Plague, which are my favourite tracks, take a more melodic and progressive approach to songwriting, even incorporating clean vocals, while tracks such as A Knee to the Face of Corruption and Oppressed, are much more to-the-point and heavy. This variety among the songs means that there's something for everyone, and as someone who loves both melodic and heavy music, I can appreciate the album as a whole. There are some solos scattered here and there, and Jacob's playing is exceptional, his leads are some of the absolute highlights of the album, in particular the solo during Cut the Budget... Cut Your Throat. Freddie's bass playing is intense, to say the least, with this being a core-influenced record of sorts, of course the low end is prominent, and the bass gives the tracks that extra heaviness. Joe's drumming is phenomenal. The intro to A Knee to the Face of Corruption is unbelievably tight and immense, and every song has great fills and consistent, technical patterns. Jacob's vocals are low and ear-piercing, it fits the overall atmosphere of the album perfectly.

The lyrics to most of the songs are actually original and cover quite deep topics, with tracks like Sufferers of the New Plague and A Knee to the Face of Corruption focusing on revolution, which I think is great subject matter for heavy music, and other songs like Cold Blood and My Terror that are centred more on personal struggles, and the way Jacob (assuming he is the lyricist of the group) expresses his ideas is explicit and sharp. In addition, his delivery is on-point, just listen to the opening of Cold Blood "I feel as if I'm drowning, under the sea of life," these lyrics make the listen even more interesting. Some of the changes within the songs are quite drastic, while for the most part the sections run smoothly, I think that occasionally some parts go on for a bit too long (the "kill, kill,kill" section in The Invasion lasts for a good 90 seconds). The production is amazing for a band this early on, the sound is dynamic and well-mixed and not compressed at all.

Personally, I think that this album is a masterpiece. It's consistently strong, memorable, and persistent. Instead of the last few songs on the album losing steam completely like a lot of bands suffer from generally, this album actually gets better in the second half, and ends with a "fuck you, goodbye" with My Terror. Go listen to this hidden gem, it's an earworm as soon as you hit play, and from then on the experience of brutality and desperation begins.