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Torchbearer
Yersinia Pestis
July 2004
Released: 2004, Metal Blade
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

This is a very interesting band. A cool name, weird but also cool album title, great album cover, decent logo, intriguing song titles… and I hadn’t even open the thing yet!

Metal Blade licensed this release from the cold label and I’m certainly glad they did as this gem might have gone unnoticed by many.



TB have many creative elements and have delivered a cohesive package, not quite an exact concept album but very, very close. Yersinia Pestis is the scientific name for microorganism that causes The Black Death or better known as simply The Plague. The whole CD is a concept story about the spread of the black in ancient times, the fear and suffering associated with those dark times. The lyrics are great, very evocative and hard hitting…not in a gory sense but with an understated, ominous menace which deliver this horrific drama. I feel these lyrics are almost at the calibre of King Diamond. Just reading ‘ Dead Children, Black Rats’ freaked me out. The melancholy stance of ‘Far Advanced Closure’ describes a man’s thoughts of his fate as he reflects on burying his children who died from the plague, worrying about his wife and wondering who will bury him when he dies; all very creepy and effective stuff.



Musically these are pretty crushing death and thrash mixed into a lethal combination. Fast and heavy the whole albums clips along at a very solid pace. A very nice and raw guitar tone drives the songs and vocals are almost deathlike, close but not quite. In terms of the song structure and arrangement they are young and enthusiastic but have not really brought anything new or super-exciting to the table. There are many good crushing death thrash bands out there, it is hard to stand out . I might have even like a slightly more refined pace at times and perhaps a few more dynamics to the songs and they tended to blur by pretty quick keeping it short and sweet.



The production is very good, the individual performances are strong and the songs and vocal lines are memorable but not instantly catchy. It is telling when there are so many good bands out there these days that when a band of this degree of caliber might fail to excite the ears of more jaded listeners. Don’t pass this one by, maybe pass on the next buzz releases by Soilwork or Darkane instead, and get infected with the plague of the Torch Bearer.
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

Lineup

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

Contact

N/A

Other reviews

» Yersinia Pestis
by JP

» Yersinia Pestis
by Lord of the Wasteland

» Yersinia Pestis
by Gabriel C. Zolman


Next review: » Torchbearer - Yersinia Pestis
Previous review: » Torben Enevoldsen - Heavy Persuasion

Torchbearer
Yersinia Pestis
August 2004
Released: 2004, Metal Blade
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

Torchbearer are a supergroup of sorts, gathering members from bands such as Unmoored, Incapacity, Solar Dawn, Setherial, Chaosdaemon and Satariel (none of which I have heard of) to collaborate on their first CD, YERSINIA PESTIS. Produced by Carnal Forge vocalist Jonas Kjellgren at his Black Lounge Studio, the band’s music is blackened thrash/death, not unlike that of Naglfar. YERSINIA PESTIS (the bacteria which caused the bubonic plague, or “Black Death,” in Medieval Europe and killed one-third of the population) is blessed with excellent production and the musicians clearly bring a lot to talent to the table. Unfortunately, the songs they have created are not particularly interesting. They aren’t bad, but there really isn’t much to hold your attention. At only 36 minutes, the CD seems like it’s over as soon as it began and despite five listening sessions, I still find it hard to really focus on anything. The cover, done by vocalist Par Johansson is quite catching, though!



Strangely, all the guitar solos on the record were done by a ghost musician, Unmoored’s Thomas Johansson. This band employss TWO full-time guitarists and yet they need to enlist a THIRD to do the solos?!? That aside, the guitars and drums are real standouts here. Lightning fast riffs are played and executed with fluid precision, while the drums are rife with blast beats. Par Johansson’s vocals are not the typical guttural death growl, either. He has more of a mid-range roar and even dips into a black metal shriek at times.



The songs all follow a theme of a village called Kaffa that has been hit by the plague. “Sown Are The Seeds of Death” and “Dead Children, Black Rats” are the best of the bunch with their tight riffs and pummeling drums. “Bearer of The Torch” and “Far Advanced Closure” have great riffs and the fast-fingered intro to “Shorespread God” is very impressive.



Without disparaging Torchbearer too much, I was hoping for something, well, super from this supergroup! The songs are not bad by any means and the musicianship is exemplary, but there just isn’t much to grab and hold my interest. Hopefully the continuing story of the Black Death (or whatever subject they choose) on their next record will strike me better because there is definitely something bubbling beneath the surface of this band waiting to explode.



KILLER KUTS: “Sown Are The Seeds of Death,” “Dead Children, Black Rats,” “Bearer of The Torch”
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. Pain Cometh
7. Far Advanced Closure
8. Thus Came Dying Unto Kaff
9. Shorespread God
10. Failure’s Dawn

Lineup

Par Johansson—Vocals
Goran Johansson—Guitar
Christian Alvestam—Guitar
Mikael Degerman—Bass
Henrik Schonstrom—Drums

Other reviews

» Yersinia Pestis
by JP

» Yersinia Pestis
by Lord of the Wasteland

» Yersinia Pestis
by Gabriel C. Zolman


Next review: » Torchbearer - Yersinia Pestis
Previous review: » Torben Enevoldsen - Heavy Persuasion

Torchbearer
Yersinia Pestis
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.
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

Lineup

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

Other reviews

» Yersinia Pestis
by JP

» Yersinia Pestis
by Lord of the Wasteland

» Yersinia Pestis
by Gabriel C. Zolman


Next review: » Torchia - oNe
Previous review: » Torben Enevoldsen - Heavy Persuasion





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