Torture Rack – Malefic Humiliation (2018) REVIEW

Portland, Oregon based death metal tormentors Torture Rack carry their down-tuned guitars with sledgehammers for arms and the raking of metal against metal they call riffs are born from true barbarian spirit possession. Perceived as outsiders, heathen, and uncultured brutes with malevolent intent these warriors are bred on the outskirts of precocious societies intent on senseless nullification of primal and innate urges. As speed metal was gentrified and made palatable for the breeding masses so rose the rebellion of death metal to crush the comfortable senility of the aging metal mind and this is where the primal rage of Torture Rack erupts from, riff after riff.

The most erroneous visual language and lyrical savagery of death metal’s terror upon parent-kind in the late 80’s and early 90’s came from the sub-genres early obsession with gore and violence. The influence of Cannibal Corpse, and to a lesser degree Autopsy, on cranking the perversion and horror of descriptive gore lyrics and abominably detailed artwork is actually quantifiable as the sphere of influence has tapered off into niches in the thirty years since. Where Torture Rack lands, in my opinion is some where between the aggression of Midwest US death metal and the forceful extremity of early brutal death that spawned across New York and the surrounding northeastern states.

The band’s first album ‘Barbaric Persecution’ in 2015 was a mix of Cannibal Corpse‘s style on ‘Eaten Back to Life’, the punkish fission of Anatomia, and the cruel sledge of long forgotten NYDM Baphomet/Benighted. It was a strong debut that featured pedigree from Witch Vomit, Cemetery Lust, and Blood Freak. The sleaze and the cruelly hammered riffing was there but the punkish elements took some larger focus away from the driving strength of Torture Rack‘s more synchronized movements. ‘Malefic Humiliation’ corrects this small error by staying in their unholy pocket throughout with bigger mosh-heavy riffing, tightly wound and confident drum performances and a growling bass presence that lurks behind the guitars like a machine arm pushing the slurry towards the grinder. In capturing the energy, absolute fucking groove and violence of old school death metal Torture Rack do for early Cannibal Corpse what Skeletal Remains does for Asphyx; That is to say they’re on (or beyond) the verge of outdoing the band(s) they largely resemble with greater fluidity, variation, fidelity, and some incredible riff work.

Where I’d stress you not check out at the mention of so many brutal and/or stupid bands is in terms of said fluidity and riff work. If you remember that Faceless Burial album from September last year or the catchy Morgue album ‘Eroded Thoughts’ the songwriting here has that same ability, a proverbial ‘hook’ in mind, more often than not. This means you might be getting a 30 minute horror show, but you’ll remember it for the content and not the tunnel vision that brutal death metal mutations typically serve. The revelation of substance came reasonably fast with a few repeat listens. Barely 10 seconds are wasted throughout the tracklist without something to latch onto; The platter of gore that is ‘Malefic Humiliation’ offers hundreds of moments to tuck into your meat pocket and savor on repeat and I was surprised how drawn I was to this album considering the deluge of incredible death metal releases surrounding it, and also coming soon.

It’d be a lazy mistake to pass this one up. Sure, you could call it ‘primitive’ or whatever for it’s relatively no-frills approach but the riffs here make one of the ballsiest statements I’ve heard in traditional death metal since maybe Necrot last year. “Slave to the Savage” and “Mace Face” are instantly memorable riff-fests but the real monster for me was the brooding, oozing feel of “Lurking in the Undercroft”. Definitely a must-listen for old school death metal fans who appreciate a strong and thoughtful groove in death metal riffing without a thought toward atmospheric nonsense.


Artist Torture Rack
Type Album
Released May 25, 2018
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Tighten the rope by turning wheel. 4.0/5.0


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