Released: 2004, Galy Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Torn Within is a side project of Neuraxis’ Robin Milley, Yan Thiel and former vocalist Chris Alsop. One might expect that since 75% of this band is from Neuraxis, that Torn Within would take on much the same sound. Not so. While Neuraxis’ music tends to be technical death, Torn Within is more of a melodic death/thrash mix in line with At the Gates and even SYMBOLIC-era Death. Milley’s riffs are clean and much more pronounced than in Neuraxis and Alsop’s voice is also much cleaner (not “clean”…cleaner!). Even a female vocal sneaks in. This is a very interesting CD and quite a departure from these guys’ day jobs.
Milley’s riffing on “Dread and Memory” and “Dead Eyes React” aim higher than what the paint-by-numbers melodic death bands are cranking out today. While there aren’t the typical dual guitar riffs a la In Flames/At the Gates, the same energy is present that made those bands early albums sparkle. Alsop’s vocals are a raspy growl that don’t deviate much, but at the same time, this is pretty simplistic music (and I don’t mean that in a bad sense) and it suits it well. “King of the Ants” will never win any songwriting awards, but it is catchy (not commercial) and basic, straight-forward metal. “Spirit Lost” is an acoustic track with a haunting female vocals and it is the perfect centerpiece to their aggression that comes before and after it.
The band has also included four bonus tracks on ALLIED WITH BITTERNESS taken from their 1999 demo. While noticeably lesser in sound quality production-wise, the tracks stand up to the rest and are by no means considered “leftovers.” The lyrics of “Needle’s Eye” are especially good:
Dead men can't dance with the angels of hell.
Fuck them like whores and live to tell the tale.
The devil spawned rock n roll, read it in the cards.
Watched the joker screw the queen of ace clubs and hearts.
ALLIED WITH BITTERNESS manages to skirt the glaring clichés of most melodic death records and goes right for the jugular. If neuraxis decides to pack it in, the boys will have no problem riding their days out in Torn Within. I only wish all side projects were this good.
KILLER KUTS: “Dread and Memory,” “Dead Eyes React,” “King of the Ants,” “Needle’s Eye”