“Yersinia Pestis” by Torchbearer

Artist: Torchbearer
Title: “Yersinia Pestis”
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 5/4/2004
Genre: Speed Death Metal
Rating: 3.5/5

Torchbearer is a band that is a blistering force of riffs that seem to come at you from all angles and while some of them are quite deft there are moments where the listener will have trouble discerning one track from the next. This problem is based on the main riff similarity but since the band demonstrates some true technical chops I am likened to think of this as their theme as opposed to their downfall. The album “Yersinia Pestis” is ten tracks that are all in some way about bubonic plague or “Black Death” and given its subject matter you can tell that this is not a happy or joyous album. It’s intense and lead singer Par Johansson screeches and wails while guitarist Christian Alvestam provides additional growls to accompany him and make the level of drama to an even larger scale. The drummer is to be commended on this one as he doesn’t seem to stop for a breath once since the whole recording is blast beats, frenetic double bass patterns and rolls. “Far Advanced Closure” is one of the albums best tracks as it displays numerous techniques and styles from the band. The slow down only once it seems and this is with the introduction for “Shorespread God”, but the listener should not grow comfortable with the break since as soon as this part completes the band assaults you for the remainder of the song. “Failures Dawn” is also pretty good but it seemed like this closing track had come up almost as fast as the album had been begun. There is some good stuff on these grooves but I definitely had to listen a few more times to actually catch where some of them were. It’s one thing to be fast, which Torchbearer truly is, but with them doing this so often I found them losing me a little bit. The other aspect of the albums closing track that I rather enjoyed was the drum solo by Henrik Schonstrom. Definitely a skilled player on the kit and someone you want to have when your Metal is as fast as this. The band hails from Sweden and the lineup is completed by G. Johansson (guitar) and Mikael Degerman (bass).

Overall this is a solid release but again takes a couple of spins to exactly realize that, and should you be a fan of the blistering speed stuff than you will love it. I found it to be touches of Death and Black Metal, with the speed of your Extreme Metal giants tossed in for good measure. To show that this is a serious piece we have a Grim Reaper present on the lyric book that is enclosed and with this you read along to the dismal topics that they are singing about. Listeners should be warned that this is some bleak and morose stuff that will not leave you rejoicing much after knowing the words to their songs. Plagues have a way of depressing people, even when it’s done in Metal. Either way this was a commendable effort from a very tight bunch of musicians.

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

Official Website: www.metalbladerecords.com

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