Band: Genocide Pact
Album: Order of Torment
Label: Relapse Records
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: February 2, 2018
D.C. Death metallers Genocide Pact are not shy about what they are. From the first moments of their sophomore record Order of Torment, the three piece treats the listener to a bludgeoning brand of mid-paced and crunchy death metal. Adherents of the Bolt Thrower school of songcraft, the band attempts to create groovy riffs that crush you into submission before speeding up to a frenzied, blasting attack. On occasion, the band has added a touch of doomy atmosphere reminiscent of Incantation. Other than these moments there is not much in the way of variation throughout the album’s eight tracks; the goal is to beat the listener down with an unrelenting commitment to brutality slow and fast.
This music will be familiar to the disciples of Florida, New York, and Stockholm. There are no attempts to appease the listener with Gothenburg style melodicism. This is not a masterpiece of technicality replete with sweep picking. This isn’t the kind of death metal that has completed its degree in English Lit and is ready to start a graduate program; this is adolescent, grimy death metal that lives in a rat infested apartment filled with beer cans. This is the kind of death metal that would rather vomit black blood on you than say hello. In short, it’s the kind of death metal that I love.
It is both a blessing and a curse that there is a glut of bands these days who dabble in the gore-ridden arts of this brand of death metal. Recent years are swimming in filthy rivers of slime with a barrage of outstanding releases. Riding on the shoulders of the giants who’ve come before, to stand out a band has to either bring a new twist on an old genre or execute that genre to perfection. With death metal execution means riffs; if a band brings the riffage then the rest will follow. Order of Torment is a mixed bag in this respect. There are undoubtedly times of neck-snapping riffing (the first riff of lead track “Conquered and Disposed” and the riff at 1:15 on standout track “Authoritarian Impulse” are good examples), but there aren’t many standout moments. To be sure, while listening I find myself nodding along with some of the better riffs, but once the album is done I find it hard to recall any one moment in particular.
This lack of memorable songwriting may be a product of the album’s structure. The band’s debut Forged Through Domination was an exercise in precision. Following a similar formula, it delivered it’s sonic attack in just 29 minutes. Order of Torment is a third longer, and though a 39 minute album shouldn’t feel long, it can drag. For every moment that works there are long stretches of time with placeholder riffs. There was fat to be trimmed here, and a good butchering would have helped the flow.
Compounding the problem is the track order. The strongest tracks are the lead song (“Conquered and Disposed”) and the final two (“Authoritarian Impulse” and “ Blood Rejection”) By leaving the weakest tracks to stuff the middle (“Spawn of Suffering” and “Ascendancy Absolved” I’m looking at you) the record suffocates under its own weight.
Order of Torment is not all bad. There are some nice solos that lay nicely on top of the fury below. The lead that ends “Pain Reprisal” is the best example of this; it provides a bit of variety that lifts an otherwise dull track to something a little bit more. Additionally, the production is mostly a strong point. The drums sound thick and powerful, and the guitar tone suits the proceedings very well. The bass is mixed well and often audible. If there is a weak point in the production it is that the vocals can end up buried in the mix and lose some of the power of the otherwise more than adequate performance.
I am probably being overly critical of this album. It absolutely accomplishes everything it sets out to do. It delivers on assaulting the listener’s ears. The problem is that we’ve just come out of a 2017 that saw a plethora of top notch death metal with surprisingly competent releases from the fathers of the genre (Morbid Angel and Obituary), continued success of old stalwarts (Incantation and Immolation) and stellar stuff dropped from a variety of newcomers (Phrenelith, Ascended Dead, Necrot, Suffering Hour). If 2018 is going to compete it will need releases that shoot for more than mere competency. Order of Torment is a decent slab of death metal, but it ultimately fails to stand out from the crowd.
1.Conquered and Disposed
3.Spawn of Suffering
Total Playing Time: 39:45