Primeval Onslaught is a succinct and deadly record at the intersection of brutality and groove.
Release date: June 9, 2023 | 20 Buck Spin | Buy/Stream
Subtlety has hardly ever been an approach within death metal and bands like Torture Rack embrace that angle to the fullest. Naming your band this and then calling your new record Primeval Onslaught and using cover art like that? Well that’s eschewing nuance altogether. With a stable lineup since 2012 and having two LPs and several smaller releases under their bullet belts, their return is a welcome one. Featuring members of Witch Vomit and Cemetery Lust, this is a seasoned lineup that knows how to create the gnarliest death metal.
From the start, this record isn’t fucking around with anything that would resemble delicate but just goes for the kill shot right from the jump. “Ceremonial Flesh Feast” is a three-minute track that sets the stage for the pillaging that will follow. One thing that I wasn’t 100% prepared for, however, was just how much fun that Torture Rack planned on having. There’s almost a lilt to the rhythms that they employ from track to track. “Decrepit Funeral Home” is a quick hit of dopamine that doesn’t bother with anything but the basic building blocks of death metal: riffs, fills, nasty solos, and incomprehensible vocals. But it’s how those blocks are stacked that make this band special. The songs hit quick and hammer home their point with grotesque precision, there’s not a moment wasted.
Primeval Onslaught is such a blast to listen to for a variety of reasons. One of the chief reasons is the simple fact that these songs are just loads of fun and lean into the aesthetic so convincingly. The sub-fifty-second song “Morning Star Massacre” is basically a hardcore song with death metal growls that comes and goes quickly but it’s a perfect little jolt of energy that keeps the record rolling. There’s a creative freedom at work when a band just goes with ideas like this and allows this sub-minute idea to just live on its own rather than trying to work it into another track. “Fucked By Death” is a similar track in that its a quick hit with lots of personality and zero façade. I love the approach that Torture Rack takes on songs like this and just let the song do its thing without the need to get overly crafty.
Everything on Primeval Onslaught is dialed in to make each moment pristinely brutal. The production plays a role as well with the guitars being pushed right to the front of the mix while the rhythm section has plenty room to move around, pushing the blast beats and thumping bass to and fro as needed. The vocals are feral as expected but are also legible if one is paying attention and they season each track with the appropriate amount of disgust.
The fact that this album zips by in less than thirty minutes is a massive plus. Lots of death metal records seem to be pushing the limits of my attention span with runtimes that bump up close to an hour. If the record is exceptional, that can help but Torture Rack sidestep that approach altogether and lay down an album that is memorable and that keeps me wanting to come back over and over again. For death metal fans that like a tinge of hardcore along the way will find Primeval Onslaught to quite the sugar rush. It’s an overtly aggressive album that balances that aggression with brevity too and keeps this album from being boring for even a second. There are no prisoners taken, no holds barred, and each song is the straightest path to maximum fuckage.