Basement Torture Killings – A Night of Brutal Torture (Grindscene Records)

Gore-obsessed, serial-killer worshipping, old-school death metal.
Release Date: 
27 Jan 2014 (All day)

The title of this band and album, taken in tandem with the clever cover art (modelled on old horror movie posters), instantly lets you know what this is all about: gore-obsessed, serial-killer worshipping death metal. A cursory glance at the song titles on offer — Progressive Depravity, Minus Fingers Teeth and Toes, Kept in a Hole — confirms it. Basement Torture Killings bang along at a fair pace, influenced by the usual suspects; Suffocation and Morbid Angel are obvious touchstones, but there are also a few nods towards the old Earache style of grind/death. 

Basement Torture Killings have an uncomplicated take on the gore-grind-death-metal genus, with aggression taking priority over any attempt at subtlety or dynamic effect. It’s an absolutely unrelenting assault: clattering drums, whirlwind guitar riffs and pummelling bass, with dual gruff vocals punctuating the offensive. With only a few sparse moments of breathing room occurring throughout (notably through the use of spooky samples) and 10 songs coming in at just over 30 minutes, A Night of Brutal Torture only just manages not to outstay its welcome.

As much as I enjoyed the frenetic onslaught on offer, I did have a few gripes. Chief amonst these was the drum production, which was so equalised and quantized that I had to go and check if the band actually had a drummer, or whether they were using a drum machine. While this ‘machine-like’ drum production is obviously beloved by many in the metal community (why else would it be so ubiquitous?), it presents the performances to the listener in a way that is so flat and unvaried that the album as a whole ends up sounding sterile, monotonous and colorless. 

In the end, this was also my main gripe with A Night of Brutal Torture, as good as the song-writing and musicianship is, it was presented in a way that was all a bit samey, with the album flying by as an undistinguished blur rather than a series of memorable proceedings. With such a glut of outstanding death metal and grindcore releases over the past few months, Basement Torture Killings would have to absolutely excel in order to have a chance at capturing the listener’s ear.