Talk about stereotypes. Let me provide you with the keywords: Swedish, death, metal, riffs. You get the picture: forty minutes of carefully packed distortions and growls to dance the night away, while remembering the good old days. Days when the underground was a truly transnational parallel world (trust me: I’ve seen it) connecting the various scenes at a sub-level: one carefully avoided by the majors, the media and almost all of your friends (the cool ones, at least).
The only problem with Death Awaits (great title, by the way) is that it’s roughly a couple of decades and musical genres late, which is not a bad thing per se, but who in their right mind would listen to Tormented when they can have Kvelertak? Don’t get us wrong: vintage is cool and girls in flock dresses and Dr Martens still rock our world, but times are dire this side of the planet and we have to reassess our priorities, therefore we’re sorry but Tormented have to join the queue right after Audrey Horne and the monthly installment of our TV licence [Are you bashing Audrey Horne?? You’re lucky you’re 10,000 miles away! — Steel “Travel Planning” Druhm].
The music? If words like ‘Swedish, death, metal, riffs’ don’t say much to you, go buy Entombed’s Clandestine and Wolverine Blues and thank me later. The harsh reality is that Death Awaits (yeah!) is not an essential album. Why? The guitar work has seen better days, thus the overall sound is well past its expiry date. And even the tight rhythm section does nothing to freshen up the stale arrangements, and the resultant chronic lack of ideas mortifies the timorous attempts to deviate from the beaten path that you vaguely hear here and there.
Judging a book by its cover is never a wise thing to do, but be sure you check the track list before you give your well-earned pocket money to the guy behind the counter.
“IOTD (Incantation of the Damned)”
“Insane With Dread”
“To Spill Her Blood”
“Into The Crypts Of Death”
“In The Presence Of Death”
Yes, you got it. These titles are as catchy as my grandma singing “Jerusalem” right before (or after: it’s got the same appeal) arriving in the netherworld. And, to be honest, this Metal Song Title Generator does a better job an it’s completely free. There is no real evolution from their debut album (2009’s Rotten Death) and no real effort to sound any different from a million other (old) bands. Plus, the fact that guitarist Andreas Axelsson was one of the founding members of Marduk and has played with death metal giants Edge Of Sanity in the past only makes things worse for Tormented.
In conclusion, Death Awaits (well…) is not a terrible album but simply because Dismember’s early (very early) works and Entombed’s first (very, very first) albums were death metal masterpieces they face tough competition. This record has its catchy moments (“In the Presence of Death” and “Into the Crypts of Death”) but if you know the real thing and you want to give it a miss, don’t worry. I mean, nobody’s expecting death metal bands to write another Atheist’s Jupiter, but please lead us not into complacency and deliver us from the past. Amen. For fuck’s sake.