posted on 3/2006 By:
First off, congrats to the guys in Torture. It must feel good to finally see your album available in your native country after nearly twenty years. And not just available, but supplemented and all around spruced up, to boot. Originally released in Europe in 1989, Storm Alert, the only full length from Texas thrashhounds Torture, has found new life through an Escapi Music repackaging. The band augmented the album with three tracks not found on the original. More importantly, the remixing and remastering work of Neil Kernon and Alan Douches has given Storm Alert the meaty crunch that it deserves.
I’ve gotta say, this one’s grown on me. It’s not quite the sequel to Reign in Blood that some reviewers would have you believe, but it is a blast of authentic, classic thrash that’ll move your neck in an acid washed jeans and bigass high tops kind of way. Sure the lyrics are embarrassingly amateur, and occasionally the vocals wander off course, but the riffs...Holy Hanneman, those fucking riffs! Storm Alert bludgeons and skewers in the spirit of early Slayer, Annihilator, Exodus, and to a lesser extent, Death Angel. After a brief (but not quite brief enough) intro track, “Ignominious Slaughter” thrashes maniacally in a highly Slayer influenced fashion. This song is such an effective opening because its familiarity is like slipping into an old pair of shoes. The rapid fire thrash riffs, frenetic drums, and call and response gang vocals in the chorus drip with unmistakable authenticity. “Dwell Into Surreality” is one of the added tracks, and is the first evidence that Torture struggles with some inconsistencies. At eleven minutes the track is slightly bloated, and at moments the song feels more pedestrian than much of the album, with Tom Hicks occasionally coming off like a second rate Baloff. The slower vocals are usually unkind to Mr. Hicks, and the lyrics, which are of course more discernable, don’t help things. It’s almost never a good thing to be able to clearly understand metal lyrics, but these are especially cringe-worthy. With some judicious editing “Dwell Into Surreality” would be a real beast, as the band does an admirable job creating transitions and interludes that keep the song moving well, and the just gets better as it goes. Tracks like “Terror Kingdom” and “Enter the Chamber” are more consistently punishing, and “Whips Pt. I” is a fire breathing, Death Angel-like instrumental. Musically, the band does well to incorporate some diversity and slower sections, and these add nice texture instrumentally, but it’s typically a poor strategy to also include vocals during these times. The slow intro to “Blood Portraits” pays off, while the slower sections of the title track suffer as Hicks struggles to keep up. “Slay Ride”, on the other hand, is a train wreck; um, make that a sleigh wreck. The Christmas carol gone to hell is so shamelessly goofy that it makes “The Toxic Waltz” sound like pure poetry.
Initially, these occasional rough edges were hard to get past. I had a Seinfeld-like inability to look past the album’s man hands and close talking. I was ready to end the relationship, and it would’ve been my loss. The first spin or so left me frustrated, but after just hitting play and going about my business, I quit listening and started hearing–and I began to consume the album in a broader context, and the flavor and quality of Storm Alert became hard to ignore. The songs are slightly longer than average, and each riff-blitzed one of ‘em blazes with the kind of flavor and vitality that made thrash circa late 80's such an exciting time in metal. A no brainer for the thrash obsessed.
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