Thing of the Day

Bearing a torch for better metal

MAY 12th 2011 

AlbumTORCHBEARER – Death Meditations (VIC) -  Third full length album from the Swedish black/death metal outfit with the big reputation. Death Meditations kicks off with the regulation moody foggy mist before dawn intro, gives way to a nice bit of darkly classical piano and Danny Elfman-like strings, the album starts off like some big budget horror movie soundtrack, sounding good, sounding epic… until… until the regulation two minutes of atmosphere, as we kind of expected, gives way to the usual torrent of hellwind noise,  high-speed metal riffs, to the thrashy bass drum pounding and regulation screaming bloody gore along with the usual growling from guttural rough-voiced singing man… hang on though… hang on…. nice twist there, nice diversion from the hell-barking and the million mile an hour riffing. 

That riffing does go on (and on), but there are entertaining twists and turns lurking in wait here, some unexpected touches, a left-field move or two, bit of musical colour luriking down in the dark shadows somewhere beyond the mere high energy metal intensity… These people must have a bagload of speeding tickets! Nice hint of occasional almost-mathy bits - screaming guitar driven mathy bits, mind you - but for once they do do it with an extra bit of twisted colour rather than just sticking to the same old blueprints and rules. Nice melodic breaks, some old school passages of atmospheric melodic metal guitar. Torchbearer

Death Meditations is an intense soup of extreme metal laced with melody, power, speed, aggression and a twist or two of colour. Torchbearer are doing this with a touch of style, a bite or two of imagination. There’s some kind of concept going down here, black metal concepts of Hagakure and the way of the samurai, not sure about that, this in reality it's just colourfully interesting intense extreme metal noise... and why the hell not? Most metal doesn’t manage to make it past our big red CD crusher in the corner these days. There’s a million trillion metal bands out there, most of them pointless repeats of things already done. Torchbearer are one of the few metal bands seriously bothering with. In terms of extreme metal, this is a good one…       

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