When I first heard Swedish extremists Those Who Bring the Torture back in 2007 I shrugged them off pretty hard as soon as I hit the fifth track on their debut. “Chains and Saws and Chainsaws” pretty directly apes the main riff from Carcass‘ “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” and as catchy as it is I wasn’t sure if I was just listening to some deathgrind parody group or a weak imitation of early Lock Up. That might just be a sign that I’m not a huge die-hard deathgrind fan outside of a few choice cuts but I damn sure know when a good riff hits me upside the head. I always felt like the early inception of Rogga Johansson‘s many, many projects came across like ‘roadie metal’ and I know that’s a dick thing to say but… A lot of his stuff is made ‘in tribute’ and features rote or uninspired imitation. The original goal of Those Who Bring the Torture might have been old school deathgrind but since the band collapsed in 2010, and then apparently again in 2012, the project has been one of 2-3 bands from Johansson that sees him newly focusing on various melodic death metal inspiration.
‘Lullabyes for the Deranged’ (2012) still had some of that deathgrind kick to it but the Carcass influenced guitar work took a turn towards what I’d consider a middle ground between old Arch Enemy (‘Black Earth’, ‘Stigmata’) and more typical Swedish death metal guitar work. The album also saw the project finding it’s stable line-up at that point with Rogga‘s go-to drummer Brynjar Helgetun (Crypticus, The Grotesquery, Down Among the Dead Men, etc.) and guitarist Dennis Blomberg (Down Among the Dead Men, ex-Paganizer). I’ll be blunt here because I’ve made a point to listen to almost everything that Johansson makes, most of his projects are cranked out so fast that they all carry a very obvious couple of influences and come and go with very little impact. While all of the musicians involved are very prolific only a small handful of their efforts are worthy of a discerning collection. The main direction taken beyond 2012 has involved a closer resemblance to earlier Hypocrisy with some Vomitory-esque parts showing up more recently, with this change came inconsistent value.
‘Piling Up’ (2014) was terrible and not only because they used a very obvious drum machine and cranked it way too loud in the mix. It sounds like a bad demo they couldn’t afford to hire a drummer for. Upon hearing it in 2014 I was just kinda -done- with Those Who Bring the Torture, honestly if they’re cranking out seemingly obvious throwaway stuff, I’m out. Shit, I was gonna skip out on their latest album ‘Pain Offerings’ too, but a clip of the album’s opener “The Hangman and the Hanged” already represented the best work the project has done thus far. They’ve hit upon a balance of pre-‘The Final Chapter’ Hypocrisy with hints of early Amon Amarth around the edges. There are some exciting glints of early Amorphis and more recent October Tide that show up frequently as ‘Pain Offerings’ plays and that dreary, semi-melodic sound kept me interested through a fair number of listens. It should appeal to folks who liked Revolting‘s ‘Monoliths of Madness’ but wanted something more overtly melodic.
If you have some lingering love for the first 3-4 Hypocrisy albums, Entrails, Amon Amarth, Uncanny, and stuff that employs a non-Gothenburg style of semi-melodic death metal there is a good chance you’d likely enjoy this sixth Those Who Bring the Torture album. It is the first album from the project that sounds both sincere and inspired. Despite all of the improvements and a palatable sound, you will notice a clear formula being employed with closer listens; Each song leans into it’s melodic parts nicely but when it comes time to be ‘heavy’ things either go really right (“Another Victim of Insanity”) or just kind of fart into a chaotic or chuggy (“Pain Offerings”) mess. I still kinda think this stuff could have used a lot more time to develop and could have been amazing but taken as it is ‘Pain Offerings’ is a decent record worth a few listens.
|Released||June 14, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Iron, Blood & Death Corporation’s Bandcamp!||Those Who Bring the Torture on Metal-Archives|
Melodic Death Metal
Insanity, complete and done. 3.0/5.0
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