Tortorum: Extinctionist

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Tortorum: Extinctionist
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Tortorum: Extinctionist
Black Metal
World Terror Committee
April 20th, 2012
Release length: 44:17
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Tortorum is a recently founded Black Metal ground from Bergen, Norway, having gotten their start back in 2010. While this band isn’t a one-man project, it’s helmed by Barghest (Spearhead) on bass and vocals, as well as Skyggen (Dead to this World) on guitar, with the rest of the group being session/live members. With roughly two years under their belt, this official two-piece found themselves signed to the smaller and newer World Terror Committee to issue their debut full-length, Extinctionist. But, was this enough time to nurture a strong introduction, or does this album end up being another drop in the bucket that is the underground Metal movement?

The first thing to take note of is the audio quality, and that’s largely because it’s basically a typical sound for today. Extinctionist has a pretty crisp and modern trait, but that’s about all you can really say for it. The guitars have a decent edge to them, but it comes with such a high pitch whistle that listening to it at a loud volume can hurt your ears and is really hard to ignore. It’s as if the louder volume is giving feedback no one noticed, and it blends right in with what is being played, but not in a good way. You also have a twanging bass presence that simply doesn’t work well with the guitars. It sounds decent during slower and open moments, but when things are richer or pick up the pace, they can be drowned out easily. The vocals sound pretty good, but could be a bit louder. It’s a minor gripe really, as the shouted approach with some additional rhasp here and there does match some of the haunting atmospheres the lower toned chords manage to weave, and can still be picked up and even understood quite easily. The drums have their pros and cons as well. When the pace picks up and the blast beats hammer away at the snares, they can be a little annoying with how much they stand out and the comparatively more hollow sound they can have. The bass kicks are present, but actually end up sounding ignored due to how well they blend in with the music. Finally there are the cymbals, which are captured well and make a nice impact to fill up the release, standing as one of the most well respected pieces of the recording.

Unfortunately, the music itself isn’t the greatest either. It’s clear that Extinctionist is heavily inspired by modern and early second wave Black Metal material. There are plenty of haunting chords that are played with grim hatred in mind of the earlier days, but there’s the blast beat drumming more common today, which isn’t just that approach from start to finish in all songs. “Aeonscourge” lays the groundwork of the album out quite well, offering some variances to the snares and cymbals that often don’t keep the same pattern from after a few bars. However, during the slower sections, this isn’t a problem. The lead guitar work here is really the most memorable of the other tracks, and the notes that stick out with a creepier tone are the most crisp, as well as lack that additional higher distortion that the others have. The only real gripe with this song is that it’s a bit too long, though it’s partly due to the slow building introduction used. The rest of the songs here are about the same with the exception of “Grace of Hatred.” This one starts off with a more commanding and slower paced groove than the others that will immediately have your banging along to it. Unfortunately, this is something you won’t really be able to do with many of the tracks on this release, and it really is because the speed allows the bass guitar and the kicks from the drum kit to stand out and make it a much deeper experience overall.

But, there are plenty of stronger tracks available on the album than those two, and oddly enough they start to appear at the half way point. “Kindling the World Conflagration” makes for one of the stronger experiences. The song sounds a lot tighter with faster guitar work and a little more complexity to it. These allow a natural epic atmosphere to come through in the faster areas, but the slower sections are drenched in a cold, melancholic, and dismal tone that is a stark contrast yet natural to its progression. This is handled well with a suitable slower build much better than the one used to introduce “Aeonscourge,” allowing a fluid transfer of intensity between the two. “Fucking Worthless” has a similar build to previous earlier songs, especially with how the lead riffs stand out, but it has a much more aggressive output overall with additional energy captured in the recording that seems similar to the pissed off tracks Darkthrone would record, but with more blast material involoved. “For the Ruin of All” closes the ceremonies in a chaotic fashion, but not all the time. The song itself sounds rather hollow, and sticks to the simpler formula that Tortorum introduces you to at the start, but one thing it has going for it is the madness in the richer passages thanks to the blast beats and the tighter lead riffs. Unfortunately, much of the song sounds pretty standard, but the additional breakdown around the half-way mark is an interesting choice that does feel natural to the song’s progression, allowing a hint of a unique push to shine through.

Extinctionist isn’t one of the most amazing entries into the Black Metal field, but it does get things right here and there. Some songs really can stand out and grab the listener by the throat, while others just end up sounding rather boring, or even just standard for the genre today. As for a debut, this does introduce Tortorum well enough that fans of blasting modern and second wave groups of this style will enjoy, but even then it’ll start to lose some of its appeal after just a few spins. While Extinctionist isn’t a bad album, it’s still a pretty standard one, as well as an effort worth sampling before making a hasty purchase.

01. Aeonscourge – 6:34
02. In Pestilence Majesty – 4:46
03. Grace of Hatred – 5:00
04. All Mercy Devoured – 5:10
05. Kindling the World Conflagration – 4:52
06. Fucking Worthless – 4:00
07. Gloria in Extinction – 4:22
08. Mother Infirmity – 4:15
09. For the Ruin of All – 5:17
Overall Score: 6/10
Tortorum (Logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by World Terror Committee via Infektion PR.