The last couple of years have not been kind to thrash metal. While there have been some great releases, it appears the onslaught of thrash bands are either disappearing, slowing down, or just getting worse. With the exception of Hatchet’s “Dawn of the End”, there hasn’t been a release in the last couple of years that brought me back to 2008 when I heard Gama Bomb, Bonded By Blood, and Evile for the first time. Until now, that is. Tormenter is a band that has been around for a while, and while their prior work was definitely quite good, their new album, “Prophetic Deceiver”, is propelling them to the thrash metal elite. This album brings together all of the elements that make a fantastic thrash record: impressive individual performances, variety, and most importantly, memorable songwriting. Although what Tormenter does is not fundamentally different from many other thrash bands, they add enough of their own personality to make this record unique.
One of many highlights begins with the opener, “Snakes In The Throne Room”, which shows the band’s melodic sensibility. Tormenter uses harmonized guitars effectively, showing great homage to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Alongside these leads are plenty of guitar solos (none of which relent in any way), and a chorus that is absurdly brutal, showing the drummer’s ability to pound away with double bass. “Snakes In The Throne Room” sets the stage for the rest of the album, as similar themes are prominent on every other track. Tormenter is not afraid to show an ear for melody, and it is the perfect contrast for their aggressive vocalist, Carlos Rodelo. Although his voice is certainly not as unique as those from the bands mentioned above, he takes a bit of a death metal approach, while still staying firmly planted in thrash, not unlike John Kevill from Warbringer.
As the album goes on, it is filled with highlights. The title track manages to be quite catchy, as screams of “Prophetic Deceiver” will be running through your head for hours. The track features a tribute to “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” with a clean guitar section quite similar to Marty Friedman’s from that song. The short interlude track, “C.P.R”, is fantastic in that it really isn’t all that different from the rest of the album. It’s pretty shreddy, and shows the band’s talent well. The second half of the album is no different from the first, and also features some of the best tracks.
One element of the album that does need discussion is the production. I’m somewhat split on it. On the one hand, the drums and bass sound great. Every single fill is enhanced by how good the drums sound, and the bass is noticeable all throughout the record. The lead guitars are likewise pushed to the forefront. Perhaps most surprisingly for thrash is that the rhythm guitars are too quiet. All throughout the album, it feels like the rhythm guitars are fighting to be heard, and that is unfortunate given how good many of these riffs are. It is most noticeable about 25 seconds into “Sacrilege” where there is a buildup with the guitars playing a riff, and the bass and drums accenting it. Every time the rhythm section comes in, it is considerably louder than the guitars they complement. This problem is certainly not anything that ruins the album, and it is only a slight complaint on an otherwise stellar release. Even in spite of this issue, “Prophetic Deceiver” is easily one of the most inspired thrash albums I’ve heard in a while. For all those feeling a bit disappointed with a lot of thrash coming out these days, “Prophetic Deceiver” is the answer to all of your problems!
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"Snakes In The Throne Room"
"The Final Form"
4.6/5 or 92%.
Written by Scott