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Despondent Soul
Conspiracy Of Torture
February 2014
Released: 2013, Indie
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

There seems to be a perception that one-man projects do not have the same legitimacy as full ‘bands’. There is something iconic about the traditional imagery of 4-5 friends from high-school getting together, collaborating and making music together in the garage, playing bars, getting discovered, showcasing gigs, getting signed, recording an album and touring. That is ‘supposed’ to be how it goes. The reality is often very different as there is no one true path to the pure art creating music, however in my experience the public perception of the one-man band is that of a loner. Often the image is one of a tortured genius working alone in a basement with a computer or keyboard to create and perfect his or her vision and art. This may or may not be reality either so I often will try to ignore all those other factors. If I had a pre-conceived notion or negative attitude towards one-person projects then I would have never listened to Bathory or Yngwie Malmsteen. I preface this review with all of that because DESPONDENT SOUL is a one-man project from Finland.

Founded in 2008 by S.J. DESPONDENT SOUL released their (his) debut album CONSPIRACY OF TORTURE in late 2013. It is a professional looking independent CD with a very eye-catching cover by T.G Rantanen, the well-known Finnish artist who has done evil works for bands like Demilich, Torture Killer and several others. The booklet is a black and white presentation with lyrics and each song has a photo / close-up of a segment of a famous piece of art depicting various scenes of intense religious activity. The lyrics deal with topics of life, death men and gods and religion but S.J. does not get preachy. In fact, I feel he walks a fine line and lets the reader/listener decide for himself if the lyrics are anti-Christian or pro-Christian.

CONSPIRACY OF TORTURE is pure Death Metal. It is good to hear just classic Death Metal without being too technical or modern or adding all sorts of weird influences. The eight-track, 51 minute album starts with an ominous and haunting introductory piece which sets the tome nicely. The themes of the intro are mirrored a little bit in the last cut as well, the nine-minute epic ‘At The Temple Of Human Darkness’. The ethereal sounds bookend the album quite nicely. The tone and tempo are very much in the early 90’s USDM sound. The drums do not sound programmed, which is good because often one of the largest criticisms of one-man bands is that they program drums. In today’s age drum samples are not just digital approximations that the ear can detect, they are actual digitally captured strikes on a real (acoustic) drum, so the drum sound is very good. The guitar tone is thick and raw and the songs churn along at a fast pace but never just pure speed. His vocals are guttural and raw, deep and deathlike. The whole album is very well done.

The good thing about having an open mind and listening purely to music is that if I did not tell you that DESPONDENT SOUL was a one-man band, you would never be able to tell. So don’t judge unfairly ‘how’ others create art, just enjoy, appreciate and support. You can show your support of this young artist by checking out CONSPIRACY OF TORTURE.
Track Listing

1. Limbo (Of Souls and Spirits)
2. Conspiracy of Torture
3. Death Was Our Companion
4. The Suffering of Others
5. Descending the Ancient Caverns of Hades
6. Adoration of the Beast
7. Children of An Immolated God
8. At the Temple of Human Darkness


S.J. -Everything

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