Torchbearer – Yersinia Pestis

Reviewed: February 2005
Released: 2004, Metal Blade Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman

Licensed from Cold Records, this recent Metal Blade act features members of Solar Dawn, Satariel, Setherial, and Unmoored…not a bad start. Musically speaking, it is a solid, albeit standard-issue, black/death album, with a handful of surprises midway through the disc.
Vocally, there is a nice sense of diversity, without being over-zealous””no trendy melodic crooning, no quacking noises, and no forced-sounding grunts. From blackened screeches to melodic-death snarls and dry-heaving death metal growls, vocalist Par Johansson, of Satariel fame, sounds like he means business, and that business appears to be quite sinister.
Riff-wise, this veers from traditional death metal riffing to more Swedish-flavored fare, although many of the leads and runs sound more Finnish that anything (i.e. Kalmah, Insomnium, etc.). Overall, from a stylistic standpoint, this favors more of a Dissection-styled black/death hybrid not really seen much since bands like Noctes and Sacramentum left the scene. A good reference point would be Prophanity (remember them?) or early Catamenia. There is some experimentation here””the stop-start breaks in “Pest Cometh” is not commonly heard in this style, at least not as well integrated as it is here. The chaotic fret-work on “Far Advance Closure” has almost a classic feel to it, like something Dark Angel might have pulled out of their hat. The most notable thing (guitar-wise) the band manages, however, is its anthemic leads and midsections””the afore-mentioned “Far Advance Closure,” as well as “Bearer Of The Torch” and “Dead Children, Black Rats”””all three of which could compete as the album’s highlight(s).
As a debut this is outstanding; as a genre release, it is a competent, though unsurprising, black/death opus from an extremely promising young band.


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Track Listing:
1. Assail The Creation
2. Sown Are The Seeds of Death
3. Dead Children, Black Rats
4. Faith Bled Dry
5. Bearer of The Torch
6. Pest Cometh
7. Far Advanced Closure
8. Thus Came dying Unto Kaffa
9. Shorespread God
10. Failures Dawn

Par Johansson-vocals
Christian Alvestam-guitar
G. Johansson-guitar
Mikael Degerman-bass
Henrik Schonstrom-drums