Tormented is the new project of former Edge of Sanity members Robert Karlsson and Andreas Axelson, but rather than revisit the big melodies of their alma mater, they have gone further back to the primordial menace of pure old school Swedish death metal. Bands like Dismember, Entombed, Grave and Grotesque come to mind, but this isn't simply a soulless copy, this actually rocks.
Pure grinding guitars and Axelson's worthy impression of the old school singers like Nicke Andersson dominate the hoarse, distorted bass and the crashing drum calamity. There are no surprises and no gimmicks, just 9 tracks of thrusting brutality. The band loves the old school chorus and really, is anything more needed? "Rotten Death" inaugurates the album with a ripping rhythm that would be equally at home on Left Hand Path or Indecent and Obscene. The lyrics are tidy: not grandiose or clever on any level, but efficient.
Lurking in the darkness, sinister and cold
Feast on human prey in rotten ceremonies of old
Bloody mutilation , sacrificing life
Unleash the armies of the walking putrified
"Vengeance From Beyond the Grave" is a better and nastier track, following the same basic style: big and simple guitar lines, pure 100% death metal with the thick punkish influence that created the 'Swedish sound'. Here you can make out even earlier influences, a little Venom, a little Motorhead. "Blood of the Undead" features a nice, edgy melody over its opening barrage of blossoming death. "Burning Torment" is just fucking sick, familiar yet at the same time fresh with an amazing onslaught of chords. "Death Owns the Night" creates a flowing stream of undeath above a brutal array of power chords. I'd also point out "Tomb of Corpses" with its incredibly morose and bloodied mass of surging violence, but there isn't a single song here which does not succeed with this formula.
I can't cite Rotten Death as an original album, more of a fun new project for true veterans of the Swedish death metal lineage. Where it does stand out is in its filthy, punishing mix. This album sounds like a sewer full to the brim with decaying corpses that suddenly start to rise, write and claw at one another as they crave the flesh of living. Its the perfect pedigree for this horror inspired band, sheer nihilistic noise patterned into percussive devastation. It's great to hear some of these other Edge of Sanity (besides Dan, of course) come through with a great new project. Rotten Death is a great debut album, and a lot of fun if you're a fan of the style.
Verdict: Epic Win [9/10] (their carnage screams perfection)