Torture Chain: Wasting Syndrome 12"

Darkest Heavy Records


For the better part of the last decade, Torture Chain has consistently, if infrequently, released a succession of tapes, each more captivating than its predecessor. While garnering considerable praise from those who have taken notice of the band’s activities, Torture Chain has kept the scene at arm’s length, affording the band considerable latitude for its musical explorations while also ensuring a degree of mystery and anonymity surrounding the project. Having honed its approach, Torture Chain now presents “Wasting Syndrome,” the first proper full-length vinyl release in its catalog. This recording consists of just three tracks, and, like the band’s previous material, each one is sprawling, multi-dimensional, and variegated. Indeed, this album reflects the band’s most ambitious work to date. Stylistically, Torture Chain effortlessly bridge the chasm between the dramatic harshness of Second Wave European Black Metal and the compositional rigor and focused precision of traditional American Death Metal. One gets the impression when listening to Torture Chain that the band draws upon a far broader range of musical influences that add depth and complexity to the songwriting; however, the music remains appropriately tethered to tradition. The instrumentation on “Wasting Syndrome”—particularly the guitar work—is superb; melodies are strategically woven through a densely arranged latticework of riffs and percussion, and interspersed throughout the songs are sharply delivered and well-positioned guitar leads that forestall any compositional monotony. Effortlessly, the band navigates seemingly incompatible time signatures and shifts in tempo. Shifts in mood are equally abundant. At times, the band revels in depressive and melodious atmospherics, while other passages are frenzied and unhinged, stretching to the edge of chaos—disparate pieces artfully stitched together with masterful precision. For Torture Chain, these extremes are not merely endpoints on a linear continuum. Rather, they represent vertices about which the band constructs a more complicated structure, the shape of which—indiscernible up close—reveals itself most clearly when observed from a distance. Though the performance is often abrasive, the production on the album is warm and sharp, owing to the role played in the recording by Arthur Rizk, known for having recorded Inquisition and Prurient among others. Darkest Heavy is honored to release “Wasting Syndrome” in this single edition of 500 copies featuring artwork by Josh McAlear and Will Boone.

Our take: Vinyl debut (I think?) from this American (I think?) metal (I'm sure!) project. As the official description notes, Torture Chain incorporate elements from both death and black metal to great effect. From black metal they take the evil-sounding vocal approach, the emphasis on atmosphere, and the epic sweep that seems to come from classical music, while Torture Chain adopt death metal's more ornate riffing style, its emphasis on intricate, proggy composition, and its beefy, bottom-heavy recording style. I'm no scholar of metal, but I gave this a close listen because it's on the 540 Records sub-label Darkest Heavy, and pretty much everything that Timmy from 540 touches is gold (Impalers, D-Clone, Rakta, and many more, plus a slate of reissues that run the gamut from prime Japanese hardcore to brilliant first-wave Australian punk). I'm glad I did, because there's no better way to while away a rainy day than to get lost in these dense, heavy, yet organic-sounding tracks. Highly recommended.
Tags: 10s black metal death metal metal recommended