You can almost imagine the scenario; two friends meet for the first time, “Hey, I Like metal!”, “Hey, I like metal too!”. “I REALLY like black death metal!”, “Me too, I REALLY like black death metal!”. “If I made a record it would be the best loudest and blackest of death metal albums of all time!”, “Let’s form a band”. Except the difference here is that this isn’t two kids meeting on the school yard, this is DragonForce bassist Frederic Leclerq and Loudblast front man Stephane Buriez. Its turns out they also have a couple of mates who are pretty handy at this type of thing as well. The duo is joined here by VIMIC drummer Joey Jordison, Seth bassist Heimoth, and vocalists, Sean Zatorsky of Daath and Atilla Csihar of Mayhem.
The result is a black metal supergroup and the album is Echoes of The Tortured and if their intention was to make a classic black metal album, to turn the clichés into something to be admired, create a journey, a death metal pop single and basically create a fun black metal album in the progress they have achieved all their goals already. Before this came available for review I had already been listening to it, it had instantly grabbed my intention. I know it seems odd to describe this type as album as fun but Echoes of the Tortured is just that. It sounds like a classic black metal album, as though this was the prototype everyone else has been following ever since and it’s a blast.
The first aspect of this album I love is the black metal / doomy interludes. They are that classic old horror movie style, creating an added dimension to the album. They are numerous and dotted right across this album to give it a soundtracky horror movie feel. Not only do they create a great storyline but they also enable to band to think beyond the black metal normal structure of songs. The intro for example is a slow building, high tension piece, with cello sounds and a guitar underneath before the first track proper burst in. Each one of these incidental pieces though are good and it is what drew me to the album in the first instance. Each one creates an atmosphere and sets the tone for the next track. “March is probably a good example, some military drumming is combined with eerie sounds and almost chanting in the background, this is like being trapped in the cellar with Freddy Krueger and then “Army of Chaos” starts, you mind is already set. They are a large part of this album, I think there are 10 of these instrumental atmospheric pieces in all, from short 40 second burst to the fully instrumental 2:20 minute long “Emptiness”.
Track wise they haven’t put a foot wrong either and have made a fresh sounding black metal album. First full track “Splendor and Agony” is a good example. It has clear interesting lyrics whilst sang in a death growl, there is a doom undertow to the whole track and a great use of the fast drums and slow doom bass and quick swaps between the two. The guitar solos are plentiful and enhance the track and they are not afraid of going on a tangent mid song.
There isn’t actually a bad track on the album so I am just going to pick out on or two of my favourites and highlights. What I do like on the album is the use of pace and rhythm to carry the tracks. On “Inverted Cross” there is almost a rap like rhythm to the lyrics at time, and this is carried and enhanced by a great bass line. Like in the first song the pace changes also work really well, they are flawless. The atmosphere is also always maintained by the use of the lead guitar which basically carries that doom feel to it.
Lead single “Army of Chaos” is without doubt the standout track though; here they have actually managed to create a singalong black death pop song. No easy feat but pulled off by the Sinsaenum boys. The “We are, We are We are Chaos” chants are going to be brilliant live. The overlapping use of two vocalists makes the whole track urgent as well. This song is fierce but oddly addictive and catchy at the same time.
The use of the interludes throughout the album also allows the band to be relentless in their breathless ferocity, power and passion and literally never give up. The interludes add a depth to the album and allow us a breather before the next thrashing track is introduced. These guys play fast. Every track has that incredible drum sound, complex and very, very fast. On “The Forgotten One” a couple of simple beats fool us into a security before it starts again, once the vocalist join in this intensity seems to increase tenfold as well. Another stand out track is the title track Echoes of the Tortured which use a simple guitar riff intro before the full band kick in. What I like here is the pace of the vocals changes from slow punctuated poignant moments to a full on speed rant and underneath this we have the speed metal clashing with the black and it just flows so well.
So with Echoes of the Tortured it is as if Sinsaenum have gone back in time and rewritten the rule book on Black Death Metal. This is what it should sound like and I promise you will be swept away with the bands obvious enthusiasm whilst delivering this to you.