Tormenter - Prophetic Deceiver - (7/10)
Published on August 16, 2015
With the recent advent of unavailing Exodus worship, the prospect of yet another repackaging of Fabulous Disaster lacking anything approaching an endearing twist is likely to trigger many a groan throughout even intermediate thrashers. Although evoking little excitement on a presentation level with such a pitifully generic name and album title, Prophetic Deceiver might just be worth more than a cursory glance, even if it largely fits the standard bill concerning the aforementioned criteria. The colorful and creative artwork should be the first instance of something greater going on within, and Tormenter thankfully follow through with this promise, delivering caustic and unhinged modern thrash that culls influence from the typical Bay Area template; and hailing from Los Angeles, Tormenter might just be one of the better regional representations out there at the moment.
And although it doesn’t evolve heavily from the aesthetic of its predecessors, Prophetic Deceiver oozes discord and atypical melodic trappings that give the material some character that offsets the ballistic inhibition of the remainder. Carlos Rodelo as a vocalist is one of the more interesting cases. Instead of the shameless Zetro lampooning that I expected, he somehow comes off as a collective amalgamation of many respected thrash howlers. I can hear a pinch of Chuck Billy’s more abrasive style fused with a tiny measure of Hetfield crooning (particularly on “Hanging by a Noose”) and of course there is a fair bit of Baloff’s manic and spastic intonation diffused into the mix. In the end, he comes off as a vulgar and potent mouthpiece for the band, allowing them equal footing with the likes of Havok and Evile. In other words, Tormenter are on some levels able to go toe-to-toe with the modern thrash scene’s best. The exotic leads of the title track, the mid-paced viscera-grinding of “Hanging by a Noose” and the snappy, frolicking “Snakes in the Throne Room” all set the stage for what is surely a memorable experience.
An experience that Prophetic Deceiver thankfully delivers, at least most of the time. The eschewing of anything approaching pizza thrash-level shenanigans seems to do these bands a great measure of favor, and while aimless aggression occasionally gets the best of them, occasionally an act like Tormenter manages to draw a decent enough hand and deliver the goods. Rhythms are pluggy and direct, working in lockstep with Bonilla’s smattering drum fills and burly grooves. The sound palette is occasionally washed over with a Teutonic brush, interjecting a Kreator-level of discord to counterpoint the highly melodic leads. In fact, one of the more memorable aspects of the album are these leads, which sound far more developed than most thrash bands, a great example being “Exile from Flesh.”
Prophetic Deceiver works well enough to earn a passing grade, delivering material comparable in style to Bloodrocuted’s Disaster Strikes Back but doing so with a higher level of panache and integrity. The album is consistent and well produced, featuring that typical late ’80s pluggy drum sound and scooped distortion ala The Years of Decay and the like. As a beefed-up approximation of a style that is oftentimes played out to the point of active irritation, Tormenter deliver a quality product and are worth a listen if you are a fan of the modern Bay Area thrash scene. This won’t change any minds but will satiate most thrashers well enough. Recommended for fans of Havok, Warbringer, and the like.