REVIEW [New Transcendence Exclusive]: Tormentor Absolute – Lesser Morals (EP/2013)


Artist: Tormentor Absolute

Album: Lesser Morals


Feel it rising up from the earth, winding around your ankles and weaving into your ribcage. Slithering, an intangible but intense serpent of hate, coiling around your heart, contracts in time with every systole and diastole. Slowly, surely, it makes its way into your head—not just through your throat and mouth, but your ears and eyes. All you see, hear, taste and smell is this all-powerful, driving mass of evil that has invaded you. An evil written with brooding instrumentation and disastrous, down-tempo assaults on the listener. An evil driven by visceral, skin-rending and beefy vocals that fill the listener’s mind like a war chant. An evil composed of every moment in your life you have ever been angry, unsure, depressed or afraid. Ladies and gentlemen, this evil is Tormentor Absolute’s debut release, Lesser Morals.

The first thing you feel from this slithering, sinister serpent is its brooding, bitter breath. Slowly approaching your calves from the dense crust of the earth, it brings with it heat and heaviness. Likewise, the introduction to Tormentor Absolute, as found in Lesser Morals’ first track, “Perverse Being,” is heavy, dense instrumentation. Looming, plodding percussion and heavy, chunky guitars create a mammoth-like experience that tramples the listener without hesitation. Every track on Lesser Morals—with the exception of the title-track interlude—is a constant barrage of down-tempo destruction that will sucker-punch the listener so hard it will cause them to prolapse. The percussion throughout tracks like “Perverse Being” and the slightly more energetic “Calloused Senses” is deep and looming, as even the snare cracks and cymbal splashes have a beefy, deep candor to them that catches the listener completely off guard. There is no solace to be found in the guitar and bass tones either—as they are constantly degrading and wearing away at the listener’s senses, forcing them ever closer to complete insanity.

It is only once the torturous beast that is Lesser Morals has wound its way up your legs and into your ribcage that it truly begins to manifest itself as the purest form of filth and fear. While pummeling percussion and demoralizing down-tempo riffs take turns swinging a sledgehammer at the listener’s ribcage, the hypnotic, hysterical vocals weave their way around the listener’s cracking and crumbling bones into their organs, controlling their every function. The vocal onslaught in both “Calloused Senses” and “Role Model” do this particularly well, using a variety of visceral, grating tones to aggravate the listener’s sensibilities. It is only in the brief reprieve that is “Lesser Morals” that it appears Tormentor Absolute might be sparing the listener’s sanity—giving them a merciful break from the murderous attacks of their brooding, relentless brand of heavy hardcore. This break is deceptively short, however, as it lulls the listener in only to have them chewed up in the three tracks that follow—three tracks which provide ten minutes in a vocal wood-chipper, as bellowed lows, harsh mid-range screams and shrieking yells tear the listener into bits.

By the time the listener realizes the real venom in Tormentor Absolute’s fangs, it’s far too late. Cracked and broken from a relentless instrumental onslaught,organs poisoned by bitter, hate-filled vocals, the only target left is the listener’s head—a target Lesser Morals is more than happy to make its home. Tracks like “Broken Hands” or “Calloused Senses” are evidence of how contagiously catchy Lesser Morals really is. Tormentor Absolute have combined the no-holds-barred hatred of acts like Immoralist and Black Tongue with lyrics and vocals so catchy that they could have come from Vincent Bennett himself. In short, Tormentor Absolute’s Lesser Morals is an album which breaks the listener open, invades their head and makes their brain its new resting place, staying stuck so intently that listen after listen cannot even satisfy the listener’s thirst for more of these Washingtonian hate-mongers.

Lesser Morals is a winding serpent that escorts the listener down a path that leads from intact to poisoned and dead—while making stops at broken, battered, crushed and crumbling along the way. Tormentor Absolute have crafted a relentlessly heavy EP that leaves no survivors—as it sucks the listener in with hypnotic, chanted vocals and then pulverizes them with a pure, unstoppable anger so visceral it can practically be felt through headphones and airwaves alike.



For Fans Of: Black Tongue, Immoralist, Kublai Khan, Subtract, Barrier

By: Connor Welsh