Torture - Storm Alert
Escapi Music
Thrash
11 songs (64'46")
Release year: 2006
Escapi Music
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Those of us who have lived long enough know what it is to have a dream spanning 20 years. It becomes a dream of a lifetime, no matter what it is, to write a book, to run a marathon, to record a music album. Tom Hicks (vocals/guitar) and Deric Gunter (bass) of Torture have apparently never abandoned their dream of a lifetime. For 20 years they have had a thrash metal band not many people knew about. I certainly didn’t. One four-track EP and one small indie release at the end of the 80s brought Storm Alert a true underground cult status, but the dream remained unfulfilled. Torture largely remained unknown. 2004 revived the band, and 2006 sees Torture re-releasing Storm Alert plus a couple of more tracks recorded along the way with the legendary Bill Metoyer (Slayer). I could praise this album putting it on a pedestal, I could bash and flame it beyond recognition, but to nurture and materialize the dream of seeing your seminal album released in your home country 15 years after its original recording – this is stuff worthy of my utmost respect, regardless of the review I am about to submit.

Intro with its church choir singing and storm anticipation prepares us for nothing what is to come. What we get the rest of the way is muscle wound thrash leaning slightly towards both Slayer-like death metal and early 80s American power metal, which was born of thrash anyway. Whatever it is, Torture never settles in with what I call a “thrash rut”, when riffs from one song to another never change, making the whole album sound like one long song. Instead, Torture has got more riffs in one song than some bands got per album. Many tracks on Storm Alert proceed to unfold one riffing pattern, exploit and play variation on its theme, only to discard it completely and start a new one entirely. In the same song, mind you. It makes some tracks sound disjointed, but, man, does it make for some epic thrash titles too. Just look at Dwell Into Surreality and Blood Portraits. The former may start like the Thing That Should Not Be, but is infinitely more up tempo and has something Arabian in its instrumental break. Blood Portraits may as well be Torture’s Battery, leading in with dreamy semi-acoustic intro and strong bang to follow.

On the opposite ends of spectrum is early track Terror Kingdom, no doubt Slayer inspired, fast, brutal, yet melodic, with speed picking solo, and the title track. Storm Alert has much more of the power metal structure of Jag Panzer, Ample Destruction era. As Tom Hicks’ vocals veer more and more towards hoarse, guitars begin to shred and grow more brutal as well. Overall, Tom’s voice is definitely not clear, but it can hardly be called growl and is legible enough to recognize every word.

Torture is extremely non-linear, they do not allow the listener to relax throwing mockery of a Christmas carol Slay Ride and out-of-control instrumental Whips Pt.1, with Whips Pt. 2 to follow all the more reserved, with less chaos, but more headbang options. Throughout all this mowing Torture manages not to bore, with obvious melodic tendencies and sweet spots.

Neil Kernon (Judas Priest, Nevermore, Nile) who remixed and re-brutalized this CD has done a tremendous job, but I think it was the labor of love. Yes, the sound of Storm Alert today propels it miles ahead of what it probably sounded like in the 80s, but Torture themselves is 99% responsible for it producing this fiery anti-glam slab with the world of thrash around them falling apart. Metallica and Anthrax were about to go commercial, Motley Crue and Poison ruled the airwaves, and more brutally inclined fans were smitten by Slayer and Cannibal Corpse. For persevering and rising out of the ashes Torture gets two thumbs up from me.

Killing Songs :
Dwell Into Surreality, Blood Portraits, Storm Alert, Enter the Chamber
Alex quoted 83 / 100
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