If you've kept up with the old school death metal movement that’s been raging for the past few years now then by now you probably know that the only two death metal bands that existed before 2009 were Entombed and Incantation. For every band we get playing some refreshing old school worship in the vein of Autopsy or something you have another 500 bands who listened to Onward to Golgotha
or Left Hand Path
for an entire year and then made a band hoping to sound exactly like one of those two records. Now, to be fair, there are quite a few good acts out there who do the whole HM-2 and caverncore sounds effectively enough to write records worth listening to, but inevitably the majority of these bands range from average to laughable. Sweden's Tormented falls somewhere within the realms of "meh". Sporting their beloved HM-2 distortion pedals and coming straight off a year break which I'm sure was spent listening to a heavy rotation of Entombed, Dismember, and just a sprinkling of Celtic Frost, Tormented grace us with yet another healthy dose of buzzsaw guitar tones, terrible vocals, and pure 1990 Stockholm worship that can only be met with one massive and resounding response.
Tormented have never really been that good of a band, having a discography that consists mostly of tracks constructed from riffs that Entombed probably didn't use because they weren't all that good, but they've never been anything worth actively hating. Yet, after a split, an EP, and one full length album back in 2009, it's finally getting to the point where it seems like they've exhausted what little they had left in the way of interesting riffs and released an album that is so completely and utterly average that the only reaction imaginable is, "oh come on". Death Awaits
, the band's second full length record, sound exactly like everything else Tormented have done except worse. It's quite possible that the entire album is played at the exact same tempo just to make sure that if you didn't hear that one riff in the first track you'll catch it once it shows up again in track 4. Surprisingly, the ***ty vocals managed to get even worse and sound something like what Tom G. Warrior's tour bus ***ter probably sounds like after a night of cheap booze and Mexican food. Admittedly the production is pretty tasty, with a nice, thick, non-triggered drum set punching along under the meaty HM-2 sound that did many bands good service back in the day; but unfortunately for Tormented, you can't rely on production alone to carry you past the fact that your riffs suck.
The highlight of the album (and probably their discography) is the last two minutes of the third track I.O.T.D, which for seemingly no reason is an abbreviation of Incantations of the Damned (wait, maybe we should add some Sarcofago to that list of CDs in their stereo to make it a nice rounded four total). Sadly, the good riff lasts for about 45 seconds and then we're right back to more mid tempo d-beats and lazy riffing. It's kind of hard to critique lyrics in a genre where you're not really supposed to take them seriously, but it's hard not to giggle a bit when the frontman DREAD yells, "To eat your skin!" sometime around halfway through the album when you no longer care what track you're on. Again, it's not like Death Awaits
is necessarily a bad album, it's just so profoundly average that no amount of nostalgia can save it from vacuous pointlessness. Maybe it's time for these guys to sit around a nice camp fire on a cold Swedish night, light a fat joint, and ponder why Entombed stopped making death metal after two albums.