Chuck Schuldiner Project

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sons of Torment

  Sons of Torment submitted their work at the "risk of being pwn3d", and I'm not inclined to really pwn these guys, they certainly aren't musical geniuses, but I can get past they're general blandness for a few listens. I'd expect someone who enjoyed this particular musical style more than myself might very well enjoy Sons of Torment as a legitimate underground entry.

     I'll digress from standard format here and put a word in for recording quality, it sucks, go to control panel, hardware, sound, click your default audio device, and select "properties". Go to levels, go to balance, and crank the right channel up. I find that about 5% volume in the left channel and 7.5% volume in the right channel is pretty good. The right channel in the mix for these few songs is notably quieter than the left. They're labeled as demos though, and in my experience, every song I've ever heard labeled demo tends to either have bizarre volume fluctuations, (the demos on Bloodbath's Nightmares Made Flesh do this) or have bad balance (these songs). On the plus side of things, I like the way the drums sound, the kick drum is a bit unnatural, but the overall drum sound is lo-fi in a manner so as to give the sound "character".

     The general niche that Sons of Torment fills is a groovy thrash band with some hardcore punk elements. The riffs are plenty fast, and Sons of Torment doesn't lack in dynamics or old-school style, but for some reason these guys just aren't doing much for me. I suppose in a lot of ways Sons of Torment's material sounds a touch clinical, to use a metaphor that might not make any sense, Sons of Torment might be compared to an unseasoned steak. The chef cooked it perfectly, following every culinary rule that applied to the letter, but its a bland, boring hunk of meat nonetheless. To use an esoteric metaphor that shouldn't make any sense, Sons of Torment could be likened to a sort of "black box music" where it works perfectly inside of the "black box" of music where principle alone is enough to succeed, but outside the black box, the results are different. Sons of Torment deliver the rapid fire, pummeling riffs you would expect from a thrash band with slower, grooving riffs that you'd hope to see from a groove metal band and the agonized shouts and yells you'd hear in a hardcore punk / thrash fusion. The rapid fire, "pummeling" riffs carry no weight though, passively drifting among the rest of the wall of sound like a violin in a classical concert. From time to time the guitars get their moment though, and the Megadeth like solos are rewarding to hear. The groove / doom metal cuts have plenty of funk / groove influence to them, but they sound soft and too round under the fizzy recording. The vocals have a good style to them to accompany the rest of the band, but they oft crack or descend towards a tone typical of an amateur vocalist. The drums however, hit all the bases, save for the artificial bass drum sound, the drums have good timing and great velocity, and don't abuse any one rhythm or part of the kit. As for the bass guitar, I hate assessing bass guitar because I frequently either register it as a down tuned 8 string, or I just don't hear it. If what I presume is the bass guitar, actually is, then the bass guitar has a couple solid lines but overall sounds a bit undefined and far down in the mix to really have an effect.

     Aside from a markedly more exciting, musical sound on behalf of the latter band, I'd say that Sons of Torment sounds a fair amount like Revolution Mother. I'd also go on to note however, that for some reason Revolution Mother comes across as kind of obnoxious to me, which I'm not prepared to say about Sons of Torment at this point in time. Maybe if they were to adopt stylistic elements like the annoying "paintbrush graffiti" fonts and started deliberately misspelling song titles or album names, I could say that the band (or at least its members) might annoy the hell out of me (Yes, I am aware I screw up both grammar and typography on the site on a regular basis, I don't think its gotten to the point where its unnecessarily annoying even by the internet's standards though). My favorite song on the demo would have to be Descending Fear for it's guitar solo which I believe to be the best on the demo, and for its wide scope where song elements go.

     To conclude, Sons of Torment would definitely not be a good introduction to this whole "groove/thrash/punk" thing, unless you're really into the concept of a band sticking to its genre's core ideals and nothing else, with no more creative effort on their behalf (See! There's a run-on, that's grammatically incorrect!). Furthermore, Sons of Torment is definitely going to need to cleanup their recordings a bit if they're interested in going anywhere with this project. Overall I couldn't suggest that Sons of Torment is any more than "average" and possibly a bit below that mark given that your run of the mill punk/thrash band will typically deliver at least a little ingenuity, and a stronger atmosphere / sense of energy.


     Just as a suggestion, I'd advise keeping some difference between to two channels, mono kind of blows over headphones. Also try and reduce the intense stereo separation by making a copy of both the left and right channels (after the whole intense left side dominance has been mitigated), turning the volume down to about 20%, applying like 2 ms of phase to each of these quieter channels, and then making the right side reduced volume copy come out the left side and vice versa. If you guys already knew how to incorporate a crossfeed directly into your recording, more power to you, I suppose you just haven't spent some time to correct the recording. If you didn't, and for everyone reading this review who doesn't know about crossfeed, crossfeed sends part of the right channel signal to the left side and applies phase to mimic how we hear things in real life. Look it up on youtube, a good demo should show you a drastic difference.

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