Monday, November 28, 2011

Tormentor - The Seventh Day of Doom (1987)

For those that have heard Tormentor's much-praised release Anno Domini, you have not really gotten a full impression of what this band was about until you have experienced The Seventh Day of Doom. If you ever wondered where those hints of old school Metal came from, then look no further than the band's first demo, released in 1987. Some of the same songs are even present, though in a much lengthier and less-structured form.

The music on this album is absolutely brilliant. Rather than being just pure Black Metal, this shows an incredible amount of traditional Metal and NWOBHM influence in the riffs and rhythms. Being a demo, there are no time constraints to worry with, thus enabling the songs to evolve and unfold at a natural pace. It almost feels like a jam session, at times, with the extended periods of music that lacks any sort of vocals. Once Attila's voice is finally heard, the listener will probably either love it or hate it. That can be said of his other performances, but especially here. He sounds less evil and more like a harmless troll, on this recording. Obviously, his style was still in its formative stages, but the seeds were being planted. Really, the vocals take a back seat to the awesome musicianship and songwriting that is on display, here. There are tons of old school riffs and great lead guitar solos that hearken back to Venom, Mercyful Fate and Show No Mercy-era Slayer, among others. While it is very interesting to hear earlier versions of classic Tormentor songs, the more obscure tracks are even more fascinating. "Branded By Satan", in particular, stands out as a high-quality song that is dripping with darkness and an epic sense that was so rare for this type of music, at that time.

Naturally, the production leaves a lot to be desired. For a demo from 1987, this does not sound as bad as one might expect. The guitars are a little muddy, but the fuzzy tone is still discernible. The bass is higher in the mix than what most Black Metal bands would allow, which is actually interesting. There is a negligible amount of hissing present, but it actually adds character to the demo. The vocals are easily heard, and the guitar solos manage to cut through the foggy sound, well enough. Everything can be followed, quite easily, and the truth of the matter is that this possesses a better sound quality than some of the full-length studio albums that emerged in the early-to-mid '90s.

Listening to The Seventh Day of Doom, one has to wonder how utterly epic Anno Domini would have been, had it retained the approach found here. There is a strong argument for both sides, maintaining the epic arrangements or stripping it down and going for a more intense approach. Either way, this recording demonstrates a level of skill that many bands at the time simply did not possess. If you have not heard this classic Tormentor release, then seek it out or suck on the nearest shotgun.