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Abysmal Torment’s Multifaceted “Strains of Brutality”


Make no mistake, conducting successful surgery with a sledgehammer and/or a shotgun is a brutal achievement: precision with blunt-force weaponry always challenges the wielder. As far as death metal goes, the question is whether an excess of primitive savagery (rote slams with ultra-produced and hilariously downtuned guitars, for instance) spoils the delivery or smooths over flavor-giving nuance. In one capacity, death metal must assault the listener, leveling his/her mind; in another, death metal must encourage the listener to assault along with it. It’s a fine balance which can be tweaked in artistic ways.

That’s where Malta-based Abysmal Torment and their upcoming fourth full-length The Misanthrope come in: blunt-force, no-holds modern death metal with cartoonishly heavy chug-grooves completely adherent to genre tropes but to such an extreme, grin-inducing degree. Unabashed and unashamed, the album is overcharged with death metal electricity, shooting for the wickedest breakdowns, the most eviscerating riffage, and the most cacophonic drumming, all other considerations damned. Check out an exclusive stream of “Strains of Brutality,” the album’s eighth track, below.

Speed is key to “Strains of Brutality,” housing a smidge of technicality and offsetting the abrupt slow-downs (e.g. the song’s midsection) which reveal the stupendous slam power that Abysmal Torment gleefully wield. What would otherwise be standalone artifacts in deathcore, for instance, are here well-baked into the songwriting; the song’s breakdown foregoes some obviousness, but not all of it. The song’s dynamism actually derives from the variance in the vocals — dark, guttural lurchings to high-end screams from afar — and a hyper-complex drum performance. This isn’t to say the guitars don’t offer more than just the song’s sheer weight, though: other tracks on The Misanthrope feature gentle grabs at tech-death, but always in service of leading into a monsterous elephant stomp or something equally as compelling to the body.

The Misanthrope is first and foremost “body” death metal: this is music for moving, for fucking shit up. Through headphones, there’s plenty of detail (and speed) to keep your mind active and aggressive for its moderate runtime, but the real deal would be to experience Abysmal Torment in the flesh. This album in particular relies heavily on death metal’s ability to light a fire under your ass, especially when you have a blockage of pent-up anger or frustration. Sometimes, total physical release is necessary (in a healthy, non-harmful-to-others way of course), and for that there’s a special kind of death metal suited just for the job.

The Misanthrope releases September 21 via Willowtip. Follow the band on Bandcamp and stream the album’s other single “Squalid Thoughts” here.

Abysmal Torment 2018

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