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Lessons in heavy-rockin' groove metal - 70%

LarsA81, April 3rd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Pathogenic Records (Reissue, Remastered)

Chapter 1 of Tourniquets diverse and experimenting career ended on a high note with the thrashterpiece Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance. It saw them give a perfect ending to their playful and innovative thrash beginnings. Chapter 2 (from this release and up to Microscopic…) starts out rather different. Guy Ritter and his falsettos are gone and so are the shredding solos of Eric Mendez. In comes new vocalist Luke Easter and a much more melodic groove metal sound, which was very characteristic for thrash metal bands keeping their fire alive in the 90’s.

Each song follows a much more accessible verse-chorus-verse structure rather than the more progressive formulae of their older material. It kind of reminds me of a heavier version of Metallica’s “Load” which was release a few years later. Luke Easter does all the vocals and this is the first album where Leniare’s thrash yell isn’t featured. Also, there are a lot fewer solos on this record than the previous ones. And finally, Kirkpatricks drumming is much more rock oriented with only a few interesting twists here and there – but speaking of the main-composers drumming, I simply have to mention the track K517. K517 is a harpsichord piece by Domenico Scarlatti with Kirkpatrick having an utterly epic drum solo on top of it. It is a very interesting and fun idea, and it works really, really well. It is almost as if he has contained himself for the whole record, but then lets it all out on this track.

New vocalist Luke Easter has a much more grungy rock voice and this might be one of the reasons for the shift in music. It really soothes the groovy heavy-rock feel of the songs. Guy Ritter would be pretty lost on this album. Easter has a more high-pitched voice, which seems a bit forced, and can seem a tad bit annoying at times. But it is his lows that are prefect for this style.

Partly, I am disappointed with this album, as I know the band can do so much more. They are so much more skilled than what they portray on this album. On the other hand, it seems as a mature step up for the band. They had done three albums which although different had the same core feeling. And even though this is a much more simplistic album, it is still darn amazing. These guys know how to write a groovy heavy-rock song. The shift gives more room for the funkiness of bassist Victor Macias playing, and also really gives room for Gary Lenaires heavy guitar crunches.

Tourniquet keeps on pushing their own boundaries in metal music, and where other albums has had songs which had small experimental pieces here and there, it is the entire album of Vanishing Lessons that moves the band in a very different direction. And although the next couple of years saw them release both their softest and heaviest songs, it is the ’97 album Crawl to China that really picks up where this album ends. And even though this isn’t Pathogenic part II, it is still a great album with a lot of memorable songs and some great lyrics dealing with social issues spiced up with the bands Christian world view.

I give the original release 80%. However, this is the re-mastered version, and the main difference is that Macias bass is much louder (and better) on this release. It just adds even more heaviness to an already heavy album. However, the bonus tracks take the score down. The “drum solo vs. classical music part II” is Hhs2, and here Kirkpatrick’s drumming sounds more like it tries to accompany the piano playing. Nowhere near K517. The live tracks are not that good. They are from the early 00’s and from a time where TQT only had one guitarist and the songs suffer from it. And Easter sounds a bit out of breath here and there. The demos are great though, especially the one for Drowning Machine. I give this release 70%.

Drowning machine - 63%

Kalelfromkrypton, September 28th, 2009

The machine that once was Tourniquet began to drown with this horrific hard rock/speed metal?? album. ‘Vanishing lessons’ was put out on 1994, when the shitty grunge/alternative rock movement was at the top, and speed/thrash metal bands had to change their sound radically to fit the new decade. Thus, gone are the pierce vocals of Gary Lenaire and King Diamond-esque falsettos from Guy Ritter. In exchange we get the almost hardcore vocals of Luke Easter who, from the very beginning was to me the worst choice for singer and in fact, the decrease in popularity of this band proves that this was indeed, a bad decision.

If we begin by the awful cover with its non harmonic colors we get a bad feeling about it. You don’t have to be a designer (even in 94) to know that this cover is excruciatingly disgusting and far from the color taste of Psycho Surgery or Pathogenic Occular Dissonance. Not to mention the inside booklet with those awful pictures of the band on the back which seem to me a bunch of drunken guys without a job.

Onto the songs, there is not much to say except that the album can be dissected in 3 parts: the heavy songs and the faster ones (if there can be considered such): Acid Head, Your take, Vanishing lessons, the mid tempo/ boring songs: Bearing Gruesome cargo, Pecking order, Drowning machine, and the ballad-esque slow songs: My Promise, Twilight, Sola Christus. There is predominance on the bass sound, so this time it really stands out. As far as the guitars they were set up to sound like heavy hard rock and not thrash anymore, this is due to hardcore-esque vocals of Luke Easter. When he screams boy he sounds nothing short of awful. When he sings in the low notes his voice is not that horrible.

There is no cool flow on the songs, as it was on Pathogenic and the instrumental or solo passages sound forced to show off their skills and this is, in part, due to the simplistic songwriting, thus, they sound completely out of place. Some of them have cool riffs and/or good drumming but as far as a whole, they lack power, force, speed and all the things you might expect from good speed metal. K517 is a drum solo accompanied by a harpsichord and again, it sucks. This is not Viento Borrascoso which had a consistent rhythm part plus the undecipherable changes. This is more and less a noisy octopus drumming solo with no flow or consistency at all. Twilight is a alternative popish hard rock song which would develop more and more the sound of this band in later recordings. ‘My Promise’ sounds to me like ‘The unforgiven’ by Metallica. The first real ballad for Tourniquet and it is not that bad. It is actually good and the riffing part is almost identical to those from the Black Album, perfect for a single.

The lyrical content has been simplified as well, so now we get topics around the use of magic, old age, dysfunctional families and the first half of the songs which I can hardly understand, which are the ones that suck the most. In all, this recording marked the downfall of what once was a great band in the Christian realms. They changed the sound completely and they were in this rollercoaster which took them to even acoustic and alternative influences. I enjoy some of the songs because they have cool parts but as a whole this album completely sucks and specially, those terrible vocals can be dismissed by all means. Since Pathogenic, they have not been able to make a single interesting AND powerful album, although some elements are still there but as far as this one they really missed all.