Tortured Demon – Rise of the Lifeless


Greater Manchester unit, Tortured Demon, are the ultimate teen prodigies. They attracted a record attendance at the 2021 Bloodstock ‘New Blood’ tent and sold all their merchandise within hours. Their 2021 album, In Desperation’s Grip, is one of the best debut releases from an unsigned band of recent years. It’s incomprehensible that a group whose founding members are still in mainstream education can produce energetic thrash metal to such a high standard. Now, the Parkinson brothers (Jacob – guitars and vocals; Joe – drums) are back with album number two and two new additions to the line-up after the departure of bassist, Freddie Meaden. Rise of the Lifeless is yet another warning shot from Tortured Demon that nobody should get in their way.

The expansion of the band from a trio to a quartet with Billy Hourigan joining on lead guitar and Sean Herring taking the bass and backing vocals gives Tortured Demon an extra dimension of force on Rise of the Lifeless. Out goes the hardcore edge of In Desperation’s Grip in favour of a faster blast of high-octane thrash. Of course, Machine Head’s influence remains at the centre of the action, but Jacob Parkinson’s muscular vocal reach has more of a bloodthirsty edge to it on the opening title track. Here, the guitars rip through the speakers like Hetfield and Hammett in their prime as Joe Parkinson accents the dramatic chord shifts like a Howitzer operative. Listen to the bite of the riffs as the skank beats power the song forward in battle formation. The verse-bridge-chorus structure is the clearest sign yet that this band envisage their future in large arenas. Often, this can backfire, yet Tortured Demon make no compromises on their sound – the riffs have more meat than a bullock; the double-kick drums thunder like artillery; the high tempo leaves you in a sparring stance ready for the next song.

Tortured Demon understood their purpose before they wrote the first note for Rise of the Lifeless. ‘Virtual Death’ and ‘Global Threat’ race through your headphones like a TT motorcycle approaching a sharp bend. You’ll find little time to breathe even though your air guitar posture demands a celebratory fist in the air. The former reveals an unpredictable structure once they dispense with the first verse-chorus assault; the latter excels in a Vio-lence/Exodus domain of double-timing beats and vicious guitar incursions. Jacob’s vocal phrasing in the chorus to ‘Global Threat’ demonstrates an aptitude for poignant song writing. Only on ‘Disfavour’ do the band approach something near to a cliché with a clear Trivium/In Flames heroism taking precedence over the quality of the riffs.

Producing ten songs of flawless thrash metal is the minimum you can expect from Tortured Demon. Yes, they draw inspiration from those that came before them. But ask yourself this: would you be happy if Metallica’s latest album achieved this standard of adrenaline elevation? The sliding fifth chords and finger-tapped compressions in the intro to ‘Conflict of Interest’ will leave you in awe as they gear up into a Slayer onslaught. No wonder the stage nearly collapsed at their legendary Bloodstock show in 2021. “This is your final warning/ Erase your life/ Die!” roars Jacob in track seven.

We should be thankful that Machine Head roared back to life last year with Of Kingdom and Crown, otherwise we’d be asking them to listen to this album for reinvigoration of purpose. Tortured Demon do not invent anything new on the likes of ‘This War Will Come to You’ or ‘Eyes in the Fire’ but they keep the metal flame alive. Their music gives you muscle. You can get out of bed in the morning with this blasting through your speakers. Perhaps closing track, ‘The Damage is Done’, hints at where they might go next with the album’s only moment of sorrow and regret crystallising in a magnificent chorus for you to experience on your knees. It’s a marvellous way to end an enthralling album.

They have age on their side and more experience to their name than most bands enjoy in a decade of existence. It’s safe to say that the Tortured Demon juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down. Why no big metal label signed them for this record is a mystery.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 02/06/2023

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: Rise of the Lifeless, Global Threat, The Damage is Done

Suggested Further Listening: Evile – Hell Unleashed (2021), Machine Head – Of Kingdom and Crown (2022), Xentrix – Seven Words (2022)