Album Review: TORTORUM – Katabasis

W.T.C Productions – Out Now.

Born three years ago and bred in Bergen, the unofficial capital of Scandinavian Black Metal, this Norwegian trio has a very important heritage to live up to.

This a task that the lads in Tortorum seem to have taken on with both passion and determination, having recorded two studio albums in a pretty short period of time – the latter being a collection of nine eerie-sounding, guitar-driven and blast-beat-infused compositions, collectively known as “Katabasis”.

The type of Black Metal that the members of Tortorum are set on performing is predominantly ruthless in tempo, with blast beats and high-pitch in tone, heavily distorted riffs in command of the proceedings.

What makes the band’s fairly formulaic style easier to digest are numerous eerie/melody-driven passages and groovy mid-tempo interludes, all assisting towards creating finely balanced compositions capable of attracting and retaining the attention of average black Metal fans, especially those whose preferences include bands like Mayhem, Marduk and early Darkthrone.

The piano creates a brilliantly moody/eerie effect on the opening track of this album, “Descensus”. Operating at a mid tempo and led by a cold mid tempo guitar riff, “The Great Appetence” is a simply crafted piece of music, contrary to its epic successor, “In Nameless NonBeing” – a pure Scandinavian offering to the spirits of old.

Urgent and raw, “Severance And Perseverance” is constructed upon a blistering riff but also features moments of melodic, emotional angst and the same applies to its follow-up “As The Light Falls To Slaughter”.

Being a massive fan of Bathory, I couldn’t help but detect influences from the legendary band in the blistering “Into The Sixth Coil”, an exercise that’s repeated in “Open Wide The Gates Of Chaos”.

“Attributions To The Dead” is a mid tempo, harmony-laden head banging track that is quite appealing to the ear, while the ten minute closing composition “Beyond The Earth And Air And Sun” features some pretty inspiring early-Primordial style vocals on top of the harsh ones that accompany the song’s high velocity riffs – by far the highlight of this release.

Truth be told, the style of music that Tortorum are performing on “Katabasis” is far from original.

What this Bergen-trio has managed to achieve, however, and much to its credit, is to take on this fairly generic style of music and infuse it with cleverly crafted melodies and fitting atmospheric passages – enough to help them stand out in relation to numerous other competitors out there.

If you like your Black Metal raw and aggressive but you are happy with atmospheric and melodic interludes breaking some of the monotony from the more ungodly riffs, then this might just be the album for you.

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 CHAMPLIN, WILLIAMS, FRIESTEDT II (Black Lodge)
12:00-13:00 VANDENBERG 2020 (Mascot)
14:00-16:00 MICHAEL McDERMOTT What In The World (Pauper Sky Records)

Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)

SAVANNAH POPE He Sees Me (indie)
GLASS OCEAN Beyond Us (indie)
BLIND RIVER – Burn The Sun (indie)
BEYOND THE BLACK Wounded Healer (Napalm Records)
BAD TOUCH Too Much Of A Good Thing (Marshall Records)
HOUSE OF LORDS Chemical Rush (Frontiers)

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