|Vince Locke's full artwork in all its unshrouded glory.|
Where to start? It's difficult for me as, just over 24 hours into this album (thanks, internet, for the early delivery!), I keep restarting the record to replay the opening third, particularly "Sarcophagic Frenzy" through "Encased in Concrete," again and again. It's a dizzying start with "Scourge of Iron" standing out as my immediate favorite. A lumbering destrier with a riff all but guaranteed to send you straight into a neckbrace, "Scourge of Iron" is the exemplification of all that separates Torture not only from its predecessors but also the band from their peers. It's a mid-paced groove (with an astounding solo to boot) that stands out from - yet fits in perfectly among - the frenzied tracks that surround it. Torture is chock full of such nuances and, to the veteran listener, it will more than satisfy in the spectrum it covers despite what the uninitiated may assume is a subgenre and subject matter with limited depth.
It should go without saying that Erik Rutan is a goddamn wizard. Torture has a feel as warm and sinewy as its subject matter and the Corpsegrinder's vocals manage to virtually coat the listener with blood and bile while still remaining, for the most part, comprehensible. Paul Mazurkiewicz's drums maintain militant precision while communicating the feel of bone against tanned and taut flesh. Alex Webster's bass has a palpable presence (just check out the outright frenetic power on "Encased in Concrete") and Rob Barrett and Pat O'Brien should get some kind of Nobel Prize in mathematics as the sheer number of riffs they have been able to expound from six strings would have Edvard Larouge saying "le fuuuuuuuuuck...."
In the end, Torture is a triumph of the maturity of composition. Set aside lyrical content, if you must, and just listen to "Followed Home Then Killed." It is impossible not to be wowed by the progressive leaps in intricacy that have occurred just since this lineup came together with 2006's Kill. This is a record that is immediately rewarding and absolutely compelling. It is far too easy, with the wealth of material Cannibal Corpse have provided over the last two decades, to take any given release for granted and file away as interchangeable with its counterparts. Despite its title, Torture painlessly guides the listener on a deeper descent than ever before while never demanding anything other than a press on "Play." Except, well, maybe a press on "Repeat."