Random Records with Steve O
Torturess - Kiss the WhipSteve O - June 5, 2017
Finding out you work with someone who listens to the same music as you is awesome, especially when it comes to punk or metal. I mean, basically everyone listens to the Beatles, and these days it’s probably easy for people who listen to, let’s say Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift, to find each other within their working environment. But it is so much cooler when it’s something like, “you know Propagandhi?! Hell yeah!” It’s like that Slayer fan, you know. But maybe a little more subtle, like being a part of a secret group. You know about bands/records that are classics, which no one else in the office has ever heard of before.
And that’s how Torturess’ Kiss the Whip came to my attention. I work with bassist/vocalist James, guitarist of hardcore/noise punks Racebannon, who brought a bag of goodies to work one day. As opposed to the spastic hardcore of Racebannon, Torturess is a fuzzed out, sludgy, straight-up rollicking doom band, in the vein of 16, High on Fire, or that Georgia scene that brought out bands like Black Tusk or Kylesa. But with an extra emphasis on the low end. Because while all of those bands have some guitar work, and some pretty damn good stuff, Torturess eschews that classic instrument of rock and roll for another bass. That’s right, Kiss the Whip brings a wallop with a double bass attack. But you don’t miss the guitar; the basses hold down the rhythm and bring some pretty good leads as well, as in opener “Ravenous.” They basically use the bass in the way that most bands would use a guitar, so the songs have that deep, dark sound, without having to tune a guitar way the hell down to B or drop D or whatever.
And with a sound that deep, you bet everything else on the record comes from those darkened realms. Barked vocals spit out tomes of death and doom. “Stand up show no mercy / Black and blue fucking bloody / On your way to freedom / The night’s knife sent you straight to hell” from “Cane the Ignitor.” Adding to the brooding atmosphere, is that alternation, from the up tempo sludge to the near droning parts bridging together verses. “Cane the Ignitor” is full of this especially with a long, droning intro following the fuzzy interlude of “Draw the Cowl Back.” “Exalted” begins with about a minute of fuzzy bass before giving into hymn of raising the dead for war: “Walker of endless night / Walked of endless life;” which sure reminds me of the White Walkers in a Song of Ice and Fire (goddamn I want George R.R. Martin to finish those books). “Demise Dominion” is a high pace ode to… well, demise, while “Within Black Without” again calls the dead to rise for war. “Blackened rites compel the dead to fight / Now sing the dirge of night / Ride out with evil might!” The way lines like this are barked out remind me a lot of Matt Pike, bringing his delivery in “Blessed Black Wings” to mind in particular. There’s that same sludgy darkness in the delivery, surrounded by that wall of sound, dripping with doom and fuzz. Damn good stuff.