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Torchure - Beyond the Veil
Review: Inhabiting that shadowy world between death and speed metal, Torchure make death metal songs that use speed metal technique -- palm-muted riffs, sudden stops and starts, a fulcrum of dynamic intensity to balance melodic playing with guttural blasts of rhythm riffing -- with distinctive central melodies that keep them from falling into the ashen indistinguishable thrashing of many contemporaries. Presaging the work of bands such as Summoning, songs often begin with a keyboard or lead-picked melodic foreshadowing, and then dive into slamming violent decomposition riffs that would be equally at home in Malevolent Creation or Asphyx.
While the riffs themselves are basic, and often "rock" without descending into the harmonic forms (tension between pentatonic and minor scale) or rhythmic cliche (double-hit leading to expectation on the offbeat -- how "unique"!) common to rock music, they are formed around the minor-key melodic progressions that make this band distinctive. These are not single melodies, but motifs which rotate with increasing layers of detail in the style of ambient bands, accruing atmosphere through guitar riffs gradually evolving toward melodic intervals, harmonizing death vocals, keyboards and a succession of pauses that create staccato in song structure. It is masterfully done in a style at home with the musical literacy of a Metallica or Iron Maiden.
In outlook Torchure is on this album more like a doom metal band than death metal, as its tendency is to sink further into emotional concentration instead of distancing abstraction, but this is carefully wired into the larger circuitry of the eternal emotions of metal, namely a resistance to calcification through a spiritedness that transcends rules obsoleted as soon as they are written down. Vocals merit a mention for using the enunciation of an opera singer in a lounge act using a death voice, which works far better than one might think, and the tasteful use of open and muffled chords to build a staggering weight of harmonic impossibility through which drifts the scent of a melody. This band blew their career by misspelling their name but their music transcends all criticism for those lucky enough to find it.