Review: Torture Rack – Malefic Humiliation
Savagery is the word, and Torture Rack are the kings of it. Pounding riffs, putrid vocals, angry drums, and rotting production are what Torture Rack brings to the table, and if you really want, you can stop reading right there and just go listen to the album I’m reviewing; you’ve gotten the gist of it.
From their formation in 2012, Torture Rack have served as a paragon of brutal ignorance to show the death metal scene just how dumb it can get. Chains, spikes, and a promo picture of a member tearing into a slab of raw meat while holding a flail give a pretty good visual representation of what they’re about, as do song titles like “Mace Face” or “Corpse Revenge.” The songwriting is mostly a mixture of short phrases of repeated catchy tremolo lines, brutal power chord rhythms, and barked vocals done over the top. The drums are no more complicated than the riffing, but they’re powerful and effective. The album is extremely short, clocking in at just under 28 minutes, which suits the style of the music perfectly. This has more or less been the Torture Rack formula since the beginning, and it works.
With Malefic Humiliation, however, an extra level of sophistication has come in to rear its ugly face. There are more catchy tremolo riffs than before, breaks and slow parts that add dynamics instead of just adding a stop for harder headbanging, and a couple of honest to god leads and solos hiding in the songs. The band even has a five minute long song now that starts with nearly two minutes of slow death/doom, culminating in a cool solo before the appropriately titled “Corpse Revenge” leads into some groovy as hell big riffage, again closing with a doomier section and some soloing.
This extra level of catchiness, thought, and complexity has dismayed some fans, who just want the simple stupidity of previous record Barbaric Persecution. Unfortunately for them, rather than being extraordinarily boneheaded, Malefic Humiliation is merely extremely boneheaded. To my ears this is actually a good thing. I really liked the debut but it felt a little too one dimensional, lending itself better to time at the gym or to a very, very specific mood rather than to constant repeated listening. Malefic Humiliation feels like an improvement in nearly every way to me, and if I want the savage brutality of Barbaric Persecution, well, I’ll just listen to that instead.
I do have some very limited problems with the production of the record. The drums sound pretty weak in some sections, and the guitar tone could be a bit bigger. The bass is not distinct enough, though you can feel it slamming you from behind the scenes. These complaints are pretty small, though, and are much closer to nitpicking than they are to genuine criticism; the production accomplishes what you’d want it to, and I’m fine with that. I just wish it had a bit more of the punch of the debut.
As an end note, when I talk about evolution and increased complexity up above, don’t take that to mean that it’s at all complex. This is an incredibly ignorant slab of caveman metal- it just has a couple extra solos and some catchier, bouncier riffs than they had in the past. If you like your death metal to be a riff-filled assault on your senses, this is the album for you.
All images courtesy of Torture Rack.