Severe Torture – Fisting the Sockets EP


Depraved Dutch quintet, Severe Torture, last released a record in 2010. They say the pandemic delayed the completion of their first recording in twelve years, but a three-track EP should not be a labour-intensive project for an established outfit. To be fair, death metal doesn’t pay the bills, so the fact that three of the original 1998 line-up continue to produce extreme music is a testament to the group’s dedication to the cause. The band that once had the backing of Hammerheart and Earache Records renewed their contract with Season of Mist last year and promise a new album in 2023. So, what should we make of their tentative return to the scene for the first time in over a decade?

Severe Torture always had a touch of the Deicide about them, not to mention an affinity with Cannibal Corpse, but these days they belong in the same Benelux elite as Aborted and Carnation. The opening title track is a statement from a band that know their instruments and understand their strengths. Those clean guitar chords at the beginning resonate with a latent foreboding before the bomb blasts and Immolation rhythms displace them. Frontman, Dennis Schreurs, operates in a comfortable guttural range but adds a frothing mouth intensity to his gullet projections. This is how you mix harmonic minor tremolo patterns with temple-throbbing power. Listen to the guitar chops of Thijs van Laarhoven and Marvin Vriesde as they wear down the edge of their plectrums with rapid alt-picking attacks. You could be forgiven for thinking Severe Torture are a three-piece with a singer-guitarist, such is the economy of style and emphasis on rhythmic precision.

Without doubt, the star performer on Fisting the Sockets is new drummer, Damiën Kerpentier. His footwork can rival the best in the business and might also be the reason why the guitarists include a sweep-picking solo on ‘Entangled in Hate’. The addition of a new talent in the band always raises the bar. Ask Sepultura after Eloy Casagrande joined their ranks in 2013. They mix Aborted with Morbid Angel here but display their muscular thrash origins with pride. Only on ‘Hands and Head not Found’ do they sound like a Roadrunner Records death metal outfit of the early 1990s. Now you can hear Deicide, but it does not diminish its impact. Kerpentier’s snare barrages and rapid fills conjure images of a ten-mile-long assembly of artillery guns pounding the towns and villages ahead before an infantry assault. The quintet even experiment with contrasting dynamics, but the quieter interludes are brief and false in their calm tranquillity. The audio samples of people writhing under the agony of inhumane violence only add to the unease. Severe Torture make sure you have no energy left to resist them.

Whether the listening experience would dissipate under the boot of a full-length album is a valid question, but a short burst of death metal delivered at this level of intensity can never fail. Let’s see what they have in store for us in 2023.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 10/06/2022

Record Label: Season of Mist

Standout track: Fisting the Sockets

Suggested Further Listening: Cannibal Corpse – The Bleeding (1994), Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier EP (2022), Deicide – Once Upon the Cross (1995)