Review Summary: New Zealand has blackened death metal too.The Grand Tormentor
is some of the dankest, filthy metal to crawl out of the southern hemisphere during the year 2012. Initially when people think of this type of metal they usually think of fellow New Zealand-ers’ Diocletian and thankfully there is enough material here to allow the two to be distinguishable acts by their own merits. This fifty-one minute titan grovels than slams onto the listeners’ senses with a combination of Incantation worship combined with your everyday typical death metal act. The sound may have been done before, but when taken with a grain of salt The Grand Tormentor
highlights an improvement on the band’s debut Beheaded Ouroboros
which funnily enough was also received at a reasonably high level especially as a debut. The music itself runs along the same lines as the OSDM wave; guttural vocals, low end guitar riffs, driving drum sections (blast beats and tasteful fills galore) and a production that would make today’s pop culture cringe. This is expected, most don’t expect a million dollar production from a band making sinister and crunchy, riff laden music.
Witchrist display some contrast that aids in making this an interesting listen. The tempo shifts on a regular level, not really sticking to a blast beat affair or a slow drudging dirge. The Grand Tormentor
mixes in a balanced amount of both. Tracks have either a lingering presence ‘Meditation for Sacrifice’ or they’re racing through the listeners’ consciousness ‘Wasteland of Thataka’ which comes in at a very brief minute and a half. This is where the production really lends a hand; the album becomes almost suffocating and pressure begins to build. This display of low end riffs, guttural roars and less than million dollar production combine to ensure Witchrist get their message across. The level of primal barbarism shown on tracks like the aforementioned ‘Wasteland of Thataka’ and ‘Exile’ are at odds (but not completely) with the marching tempos found in ‘The Tomb’ and ‘Funeral Lotus’ (which is the records longest track). At times the straight forward nature of this record can be grating, but that’s okay The Grand Tormentor
was not meant to be a mainstream, melody filled listen. Rather it’s straight forward, back to basics approach has left the listener with something heavy and accessible, allowing for a greater playback value. There’s no technical wankery, just solid song writing highlighting the potential that these guys have (and this is only their second full-length release).
For fans, they will be glad that Witchrist reared their ugly heads. The Grand Tormentor
has a monstrous sound that’s almost overbearing in its nature. Their sound is far from original and may not have the same quality as acts from the old days but in where bands like Immolation and Incantation have left off there are other bands to follow in their well-trodden footsteps. This fifty one minute opus may drag in the middle but in the album’s solid song writing there is room for The Grand Tormentor
to grow, to deviate around what the listener wants from an OSDM act. Listeners sit through a wasteland of filthy riffs, lurking indistinguishable vocals and switches in tempo where the bass unfortunately gets lost in the low end sound of the album. On the back of a thunderous debut, Witchrist’s sophomore record displays a band that can grow – and is willing to grow. There may indeed be better releases out there but this act hailing from New Zealand is giving the death metal scene a fair crack.