This album contains a live recording by Netherlands’ SEVERE TORTURE, plus the tracks from their demo, released in 1998. And a PESTILENCE cover! As you can tell by the name, SEVERE TORTURE play a brand of Brutal Death Metal popularized by the likes of DYING FETUS & CANNIBAL CORPSE. Minus the solos. Let’s talk about each section separately.
The cover is basically the PESTILENCE classic, but played a little faster. Instead of a guttural growl, the vocalist adopts a lower pitched raspy vocal style. Think David Vincent (MORBID ANGEL) and you’d get the idea. It stayed true to the original version and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
The demo tracks (tracks 11-15) show the band at less mature state, although a bit hungrier. The songs that did make it have a heavier, more bludgeoning side to them. The ones that didn’t sound a bit Black Metal-ish, with primarily semi-melodic tremolo picked passages. It’s not BAD, but the preceding material had this bludgeoning production and the last tracks have the ‘demo’ sound to them and they don’t hold up in comparison. It’s interesting too not that the band DID employ solos at this stage, but for some reason, decided to forgo their use. Did they think the solos took away from the brutality? Seems like it.
The major part of “Bloodletting” is the live tracks and it contains both good and bad elements. The band is really tight and the material comes off as menacing and heavy, but two things about the sound bother me to no end. One of them is the snare: The trigger has that damn “tonk” sound and it’s mixed too loud, which is just distracting. The second is whenever the band tremolo picks notes higher up on the fret board those notes lose ALL their power and just sound weak and sloppy. The rest of the time, the sound is PERFECT, with the guitars crisp yet still powerful and the levels of all the instruments are perfectly balances. The other issue I have is the lack of a “live” feel to these tracks. Where is the crowd reaction? The stage banter? All we get is a few sparse cheers at the end of certain songs and the introductions are kept to a minimum (“This is a song called Decomposing Bitch!”). It lacks the feeling that it was all recorded at the same show…live albums generally need to have a sense of flow, like it’s all at the same show, but the songs feel separate.
It seems like I’m nitpicking because I hate the album, but I like it. It’s just the live tracks don’t sound like live tracks and that brings my enjoyment of the album a bit down.
Solid Brutal Death. If you like that style, check this out. (Online March 15, 2006)