[1st February, 2013]
01. Necromantic Disposition
02. Visceral Disembowelment
03. Neurotic Aberration
04. Torment of the Weak
05. Back to Crack
06. Incestual Convulsions
07. Sutured Flesh
Since forming in 2007, Scotland’s Scordatura have produced a number of demos, an EP, and a live album from Edinburgh’s fantastically named Deadhaggis Deathfest, and all without the support of a label. Until now, they had yet to offer up a full length album showcasing their talents, but thankfully Scordatura have remedied this with the release of Torment of the Weak, a very respectable and well produced work of death metal that show them to be a talented and extremely capable player in the field of extreme music – although perhaps not one looking to reinvent the game.
Comprised of seven tracks spanning just over 26 minutes, Torment of the Weak is short, sweet, and to the point. The opening track “Necromantic Disposition” starts off with an auditory introduction sounding straight out of a Hostel film; all screams and wet crunching that if played too loudly may attract a neighbourly phone call to the authorities on suspicion of a murder on the premises. The music is straight aggressive death metal: technical without being flashy, and brutal and heavy without feeling gimmicky or resorting to predictable breakdowns or sub drops. The production overall is excellent, with all the elements sitting together without competing for space or losing definition. The guitars are clear and distinct, the drums are tight and powerful. The bass is characteristically low in the mix, holding up the lower end of the guitars while only occasionally stepping into the forefront. The vocal performance is well executed and, again, straight death metal.
The album as a whole is a very solid effort, in some ways bringing to mind Decapitated‘s debut album Winds of Creation, released in 2000. Similarly, Decapitated were a very young band (their ages ranged from 15 to 18 at the time of the recording) yet managed to produce an incredibly tight, aggressive, and catchy death metal album before going on to a very successful career. To be fair, Decapitated had both the production support of Piotr Wiwczarek of Vader and label support of Earache Records, neither of which are benefits enjoyed by most unsigned death metal bands. With this in mind, Torment of the Weak is all the more impressive for being an independently released debut full length. Whether Scordatura will find similar success to a band like Decapitated is an open question, but the raw technical ability is definitely there, and they know how to intermix enough interesting moments and ear catching licks to keep the listener coming back for more.
If one had to find a particular criticism to level against the album, it could be pointed out that the drums are very sample heavy. The snare, toms, and kicks are all really loud all the time. Although this tends to be par-for-the-course in modern death metal, it can be a distraction when every hit feels the same dynamically. For self-produced bands, this is often partly done out of necessity, since not every band can afford to track drums in large, great sounding rooms. Judging by this video posted of Scordatura’s drums being recorded, it appears this was just the case. While this is not to say that the drum performance is ineffective, in future releases it would be nice to hear more of the drummer’s personality and style in the performance.
The other and more overarching criticism that could be brought to bear against Torment of the Weak is that, while a truly solid album with a lot to like, it is doing little to break new ground in the death metal world. For all its qualities, it ultimately fails to stand out from a number of other contemporaries making essentially similar death metal. Is it such a bad thing to have an overabundance of solidly decent death metal bands? Of course not, and if anything it’s a great problem for fans of death metal to have. It does, however, mean it’s that much harder for any one band to stand out from the crowd. Some groups will resort to gimmicks or chase fads in the attempt to push forward in the collective conscience of the extreme music community, these efforts usually don’t make for lasting impressions. Scordatura present themselves as a band with no interest in gimmicks. Judging by the technicality, aggression, and energy of this first release, Scordatura come across as a band that, with continued growth and evolution, could become a major force in the death metal field.