Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tormentor - Recipe Ferrum!

Tormentor - Recipe Ferrum!
2000, Avantgarde Records

Officially, this is really Tormentor's first album, if you can believe that, and one that will probably have most of their long-time fans scratching their heads in utter bewilderment, as it combines several different disparate styles of music over its 70+ minute running time. Going from modern melodic 'black rock' to gothic stylings to black metal atmospheres, through doom metal dives into the abyss and out the other side in the form of looping sound exploration, classical intros and movie sampling (did you ever think you would hear something like 'Paprika Jancsi' from this band?), this album is very diverse and very eye-opening: falling, as it certainly will, on an audience who thought themselves thoroughly prepared for its reception. 'Recipe Ferrum!', the title track and first song, is a good example of the mode this band will take on the remaining 15 songs: it combines completely bizarre ambient atmospheres with overtly simple keyboard melodies, simple 'rock' riffs, and in the middle, a slow dissonant doom section where all these atmospheres are combined with schizophrenic soloing to evoke almost a 'horror movie' effect.

Of course the element that ties all these songs together into a cohesive whole is Attila's famous vocal patterns, stretched here to their ultimate limit as he takes upon himself the task of summoning almost every form of 'metal' vocal style in existence: black metal screams, slow croons, moans, gurgles, laughter, terrified whispers, low growls, authoritative commands, etc. He has a wide range, but through it all you can hear that familiar Hungarian accent breathing, so it is somehow reassuring and disturbing at the same time. As most of you know by now, this is the man responsible for the chilling screams on Mayhem's 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' album, and if you are in any way a fan of his vocals on that landmark release, you will not be let down by this album.

This album is split into three different sections, giving it its own unique architecture, and each section's songs are supposedly related to each other based on internal similarities or lyrical themes. My favorites song on this album would have to be the ninth from the first section, 'Cara Mia', which laces the sound of a woman moaning and female vocals (in tandem with Attila) over a rather simplistic but very moving lead and keyboard melody. I would also like to add that the 'vampiric' themes on this album initially struck me as being something of a cliche (could there be anything more tired in metal music right now than vampirism?) but given the immense length of time involved in the composition of this album and the fact that this band is Hungarian, I feel it can be excused. Who else could write a song in the year 2000 simply titled 'Dracula' and get away with it? Tormentor has been quoted as assuring everyone that this album really moves them completely out of the 'black metal arena', but I wouldn't be so sure. There is still a lot of metal in their blood...