Monday 17 May 2021

Torture Squad - Unknown Abyss (2021)

Country: Brazil
Style: Death/Thrash Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 6 Mar 2021
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This is apparently an EP, thus qualifying it for review at Apocalypse Later, but you can't accuse Torture Squad of generosity on this one. There are only three tracks on offer and, while the last of them runs nine and half minutes, the first is really an odd sort of intro. But hey, I'll be following up with the new one from Motorpsycho, which is a double album because they don't know how not to be generous, so it evens out in the wash.

Torture Squad are a death/thrash metal band from São Paulo who have been around since 1990, with eight albums to their credit. They haven't been busy of late though. Vitor Rodrigues, who sang on six of them, left in 2012 and their output has mostly shifted since then to singles and EPs, live albums and compilations, but only two further studio albums. So I thought I check this out and see what they're up to. What I found is that I'm really not sure.

When they get down to business, they still rip. Area 51 is the straight forward song here, a six minute heads down thrash number that's downtuned a little to appease the death hounds and decorated by a fierce harsh vocal from new singer Mayara Puertas, who goes by Undead and also handles mike duties for a goregrind outfit by the name of Regurgimentação Necrovaginal Sangrenta, which I was able to translate without having any real knowledge of Portuguese. Hi mum, I met this girl. It's OK, she has a job. She sings for Bloody Death Vagina Regurgitation...

Actually, she's pretty good here, though she only gets to sing on Area 51, though that's probably her growling at us demonically in the intro and telling us not to cross her path at the end of it, because it turns out that Torture in Progress is a nine minute instrumental jam. Yes, that means that each of the three pieces of music here are completely different. Maybe that's the point.

While Area 51 is the only one that fits the sort of material I was expecting, mostly fast and technical with plenty of time changes and a churning slow part, I rather liked Torture in Progress too (the title track only really serves to make this EP look a little less skimpy than it is). Torture in Progress works well as a showcase for the musicians, albeit ironically because Puertas doesn't do anything on it.

It begins as what a potential spotlight for Castor and his bass, but Amílcar Christófaro gradually takes over by playing a drum solo over the top. I'm not entirely sure it works but it's certainly different and the two find a way to play together rather than against each other by a couple of minutes in. A guitar shows up a little later, Rene Simionato experimenting with feedback before going more traditional at the four and half minute mark. And it certainly gets more and more traditional, eventually becoming a sort of Deep Purple jam, merely with faster guitars and a more obvious bass.

I'm really not sure what Torture Squad are aiming to achieve here. In the sub-twenty minute running time, they do three completely different things, one of which works well and another of which evolves into something interesting, but the third is a waste of three minutes. If this is a statement of musical intent, I'm eager to hear the next Torture Squad album but I have absolutely no idea what it's going to sound like.

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