Article by Svennerick
Not shortly after its inception, Death metal saw not only a stagnation in popularity, but also in creativity and artistic spirit. A genre that peaked and that had already developed most of its subgenres before even being given a concrete name showed the metal scene something new in the mid 80s and early 90s. But that magic eventually faded and now Death metal has only seen a small amount of innovation or peaks in the last two decades, since we mostly end up listening to band worshipping Gorguts‘ Obscura, yet missing its ferocity, or a band creating an entire album consisting out of blast beats and overly technical riffs, which feel more like filler than forwards moving music. Bands lost the connection to what made Death metal special in the first place and would rather waste their impressive talent and devotion trying to rehash what Necrophagist or Spawn Of Possession did in the early 2000s with great success.
Next to our 280bpm monsters we have many revival bands, which even add more to the current climate of stagnation we see in Death metal, although there are memorable acts, writing riffs in the vein of Demilich, Infester or Demigod.
Melodic, twisted, dark, riff-based and progressive is what most Hessians assume with aforementioned acts which were never in need of a massive discography to prove to us their musical integrity .
MANGLED TORSOS, a band from Pforzheim Baden-Wurttemberg in southern Germany, could be associated with those attributes as well, yet they never faced great success back in the day and even today, despite their first Album Drawings of the Dead creeping around at 30.000 YouTube clicks.
Drawings Of The Dead welcomes us with a slow, majestic synthesizer melody which will be joined by the other instruments as well in order to introduce us to this journey of their own brand of TODES METALL.
Akin to Demilich’s trademark Vocals, the vocalists Patrick and Olli make use of a low, guttural, throaty growl, accentuated with high, black metal leaning shrieks which are sung in short bursts to give some contrast to the performance and boost the momentum of the music while blast beats kick in. Many people disregard guttural vocals since we associate them with Slams and breakdowns, but it’s fair to say that they have their righteous place on this disk. They add weight to the majestic and slow, marching melodies, like an antagonist delivering his final monologue before ultimately being defeated.
Melodies, riffs. This is what every metallistener should seek. We have it here in all forms, whether you like classical Iron Maiden melodies, blasphemous sounding death metal riffs, technical prowess; acoustic parts or cheesy solos. Mangled Torsos strings those elements beautifully together with their downtuned strings.
Recursive riffs emerge from each other, without a real sense of transition, but with a really good sense on what riffs to put together and when to create variety. This way we end up with memorable riff craft which sounds like childplay and a sense of pushing songs further while repetitions occur on the right passages to make the songs as enjoyable as the riffs.
The drummer Patrick pushes the songs forward and offers the listener intriguing and intricate patterns which add a panoramic sound and foundation to the songs. The drums shine through groove, precision and perfect understanding on how to interact with the other instruments. Blast beats appear when the songs need momentum, melodies will be supported, even enriched with laid back, calming patterns. Despite him not being a technical powerhouse like many American drummers, which was always the case with European death metal, except for Hannes Grossmann, he understood how to make songs work, which is worth a lot.
What we have discovered here is a totally competent band in all aspects, whether we are discussing the vocals, riff craft or drums. The production obviously isn’t top notch, but it offers a fitting, resonant and meaty sound, perfect for this more mid-paced approach to Death metal. Similar to Apophis, another German Death Metal band, Mangled Torsos raises the question on why they never got bigger, to an extent like Infester or Demigod did.