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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%.