Comprehending the brutality, remnants of the military regime engraved into society, toughness and struggle of everyday life and surrounding harshness of the Brazilian Metal scene should go through past acts such as SEPULTURA or KRISIUN, however, to truly take in the essence of this vast Metal communion, possibly the biggest in South America, one must indulge the violent instigation of the veteran Thrash / Death Metallers of TORTURE SQUAD. Truth be told, it took this band that was formed in the early 90’s, to step out of its shell to reach for glory, with its milestone being accomplishment of dominating the 2007’s Wacken Metal Battle in the festival in Germany that granted the band a contract in Wacken Records, nonetheless, this band, in comparison to the two icons I mentioned remained under the radar. Furthermore, last year that band lost its longtime vocalist Vitor Rodrigues that decided to pursue other musical experience, leaving TORTURE SQUAD behind as a trio. However, Rodrigues’ departure didn’t appear to flinch the band’s effort to continue pushing forward and “Esquadrao De Tortura” (“Torture Squad”), via an underground label and a follower to “Æquilibrium”, signaling two decades celebration, is a solid proof in stone to that while also employing the services of Fernanda Lira to cover the vocals section, yet not as an official member of the band.
Unlike SEPULTURA that have been considered as gods of Metal in Brazil and eventually lost their way, TORTURE SQUAD remained in the vicinity of their mixed Metal genres, while ratifying various elements to preserve it as fairly fresh that brought them a tad closer to another Brazilian Thrash band that I reviewed recently named WOSLOM along with another veteran Thrashed up beast by the name of KORZUS. “Esquadrao De Tortura” still upholds by the chief Thrash manifestation of SLAYER, an archetypal band that has been one of the pillars to Brazilian Thrash Metal so it would seem, right to the edge of Death Metal. On the other hand, there are also various aspects that would coarse your reminiscence of the likes of DESTRUCTION, slight Punk / Thrash attitude of the American HIRAX, structural complexity of US VIO-LENCE and the Danish ARTILLERY in conjunction with the early piercing SEPULTURA.
Frankly, after running around with “Esquadrao De Tortura”, it would appear to me that that in a way TORTURE SQUAD tried too hard to upscale their effort with a clear shot at become something more than your usual Thrash and Death Metal concoction. So you are probably asking yourself why an attempt to be unique is considered as too much of an effort? Well, “Esquadrao De Tortura” mainly consists of songs that have an overdose of riffs, unexpected but awkward passages that at times doesn’t seem to follow a song’s context, and in general, the songs sometimes felt to head nowhere, like running amok, desperately desiring to reach out to cover as much areas as possible. Honorable cause as it may be, but then again eventually it is like hitting the wall, and keep on hitting it till death. On several occasions it takes time to connect between the dots, like trying to have everything ordered. The climax of this sensation is evident through “Conspiracy of Silence” or “Architecture of Pain”, possibly two of the album’s unconventional tunes, the former storming between mid tempo molestation of Thrash keen on a haze of Blues Hard Rock right into the gutters of late 80’s Death Metal, sounds crazy or what? Sure it is, but as much as it is a renewal, it apparently overwhelmed just a tad bit thus creating a song within a song. Generally, TORTURE SQUAD surprised with their progress towards an artistic measure, then again there is work to be done on that.
On the other hand, I can’t deny the ideas and concepts that did worked their magic on “Esquadrao De Tortura”. Songs like “Wardance”, especially with those melodic intoxications and the overall street type grooves, the brutal assault of “In the Slaughterhouse” that is no short of astonishing with this mood shifts and “Patria Livre” (Feat. Joao Gordo (RATOS DE PORAO) on vocals), which is perhaps one of the album’s standard tunes conveying a melding of old and new school SLAYER Thrash smiting with a few extremities, are closer to brilliance, meaning that there are risks worth taking in order to take a brave step forward. Such unexpected outcomes made me interested even more. Though being excessive sporadically, TORTURE SQUAD achieved a fine output to commemorate their twentieth anniversary and a good starting boost for their imminent plans for 2014. Pick up this release and have a go at these guys if you haven’t done that before.