Released: 2014, Rapture Records/Sevared Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
After a slow start that saw their first decade produce as many name changes and albums – one – Brazilian death metallers In Torment, formerly just Torment, certainly have picked up the pace over the last few years. Since 2009, they have offered two EPs (one of which, 2013's The Flesh Gateway, included a DVD) and, with the recent release of Sphere of Metaphysical Incarnations, two full-lengths.
This relative flurry of activity, which included the band's first tour outside of Brazil in 2012, certainly has brought with it some new confidence and ambition to the band. Like its predecessor, 2011's Paradoxical Visions of Emptiness, Sphere is a fairly elaborate and technically advanced conceptual work - this time “describing the birth of a new god, incarnated by a sphere of power,” according to the band's bio. It is thematically reminiscent of Nocturnus or Pestilence during the Testimony of the Ancients/Spheres era, though without the prog/fusion musical inclinations, save for the closing instrumental “Beholding the Everlasting.”
Indeed, In Torment's sound is more of the Suffocation/Morbid Angel/Hate Eternal ilk - with an emphasis on Suffocation - delivering plenty of brutality to go along with its dexterity. And, for the most part, it is void of the usual concept album interludes and connective tissue, other than some brief narration from the sci-fi/horror cult classic “Event Horizon.” Sphere leaps right into your face with “The Unnatural Conception,” as savage a death metal track as you could ask for, without so much as a “how do you do?” and sticks to that relative formula throughout.
The album is a tumult of careening riffs, flame-throwing tag-team or multi-tracked vocals, galloping drums and fleet, though often terse solos. It would probably sound a bit more spectacular were it not quite so relentless, but there's something to be said for a concept album that clocks in at a tidy 35 minutes. Without the usual indulgent filler, Sphere simply mows you down.
With a mix/mastering by veteran U.S. producer Zack Ohren, who's taken his share of grief of late for his dynamic range, or lack thereof, but does a solid job here, Sphere is a much better sounding album that what one might expect by a relatively obscure band from off the beaten path. More subtle aspects, like Bruno Fogaça's nifty bass licks, make their presence felt and add a bit of flair to this otherwise punishing effort.