Relentless - Tempest Of Torment - 2005 - Crash Music
1. Furious 2. At War 3. Dreadful 4. Scraped Off The Wall 5. Zombified Genocide 6. Crippled 7. Infernal Madness 8. Tempest Of Torment 9. Lethal Apparition 10. Kneedeep In Gore
Relentless are an interesting lot. Hailing from Sweden, one would think the group would be hellbent on destroying the opposition with dashing thrash romps and a good bit of Gothenburg styled flavor. With bands like Carnal Forge and The Haunted leading the charge, I really opened up "Tempest Of Torment" thinking I would be in for the same roller coaster ride, an event that has become rather dull over the course of time due to so many "rides" taking place. However Relentless surprise me, really going after an entirely different market with their brand of death metal extreme.
In a lot of ways, Relentless remind me of early Hypocrisy, with a Swedish sound heavily influenced by Floridian death metal. When Hypocrisy mastermind Peter Tagtgren first unleashed "Penetralia" on us in the early 90s, their sound was highly enhanced by Florida groups like Malevolent Creation and Cannibal Corpse. Now we get that same sort of creation all over again, this time about a decade later with Relentless borrowing heavily from the US death metal charts of the late 80s/early 90s. This is really refreshing for me simply because this sort of venture has long become dead, almost like an antique that has been stored away. Now the sound has become new again, re-tooled and re-packaged here in the states by Crash Music, a label that certainly seems to have it's ups and downs.
"Tempest Of Torment" is a solid craft, completely delighful in it's songwriting and overall delivery. This is what I loved about 90s death metal, the straight forward, horror themed metal that I grew up with. These Swedes bring back memories of Cannibal Corpse ("The Bleeding"), early Malevolent Creation, Six Feet Under ("The Haunted"), and some of Britian's death wonder in Benediction. I can even hear some Unleashed and Sinister thrown in the mix, but really this record is straight out of that Floridian pack of extremists. It has that sadistic energy, with plenty of groovy riffs, start-stop drumming, and deep gutsy vocals, all wrapped up in a great story telling mode.
Relentless really create absolute masterpieces here, with songs like "Furious", "At War", and "Kneedeep In Gore" all retaining that certain amount of death metal "shock value", but at the same time taking note to include heavy slabs of groove to keep the listener hooked. This band can be a million miles an hour, rampaging along in Sinister or Vader style before hitting the brakes and inventing a mammoth groove that is built from the Slayer/Blessed Death engine. That is really the best part about the band, that drive to be both chaotic and structured, something long lost from early pioneer bands like Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. Instead of being tastless and obscene, Relentless really capture that "horror" element without going to those extremes. They write frightening passages that really are glimpes of our sick society. With "Scraped Off The Wall" the band create a rather disturbing picture of serial killers, while "At War" creates the shocking visions of battle.
Vocalist/guitarist M. Andersson seems to admire that early Chris Barnes (Six Feet Under, Cannibal Corpse) delivery, with his voice being extremely deep but still remaining audible and clearly understanding. The group seem to focus on songs that are structured in much the same way as the material found on the only good Six Feet Under recording, "The Haunted". The songs are crafted like good horror tales, the music is both speedy and organized, and the overall production of the album leaves the listener with thoughts of an 80s sound, not dating themselves but simply paying homage to a fabulous place in history.
Bottom Line - Relentless are a damn fine group of death metal scholars. Unfortunately Crash isn't doing much to promote this new record. Their website doesn't even mention the release of the band for that matter. I haven't been able to find much about the group online at all. Hopefully they have more records that I can dig up, and I look forward to more work from this solid group of old 'schoolers.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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