Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tormentor - Anno Domini (1988)

This record makes me very, very happy. Tormentor are a Hungarian black metal band that helped kick off the second wave of black metal, mostly with this influential album and because singer Attila Csihar was later asked to sing for Mayhem.

"Anno Domini" is their first full length. It was originally independently released as a demo tape, but Nocturnal Art Productions eventually re-released it as a CD and LP (limited to 666 copies, of course). At just under forty minutes it is too short, but wonderful. The sound is early, almost proto-black metal, though definitely influenced by Bathory and Celtic Frost. The album is kind of all over the place with elements of thrash as well as what would later become atmospheric black metal.

The guitars, while amazing, are definitely inspired by everything from Slayer-heavy thrash to more classic heavy metal riffs. The vocals are what make this album so original. Attila sounds like a crazed, otherworldly demon. In fact, if you've ever seen the film LEGEND, he sounds a lot like the goblin who chants "black as midnight, black as pitch, blacker than the foulest witch." Coincidentally, this is something Attila would believably sing about. Tormentor are also one of the first bands to use synths, which they do well.

"Anno Domini" achieved cult status and deservedly so, partly because many of the second wave black metal bands loved it. If you haven't heard it, I highly recommend it. Fans of early black metal (Bathory, Master's Hammer) or early thrash will love it.

It's amazing to consider that they created this in a communist environment, managed to record it and release it themselves, but basically had to sit on it till the end of communism in Hungary. They relied solely on tape trading through the metal scene, spreading this angry, vicious, evil record throughout the metal underground.

Track list:
1. Introduction
2. Tormentor I
3. Heaven
4. Elisabeth Bathory
5. Damned Grave
6. In Gate of Hell
7. Transylvania
8. Tormentor II
9. Trance
10. Beyond
11. Apocalypse
12. Lyssa
13. Anno Domini

I'm not sure if this is still in print, but listen to it here. I can't imagine any black metal fan disliking this. Visit their myspace page. Though they broke up in the early '90's and reformed in '99, they are currently on hold, whatever the fuck that means.

P.S. I love Dissection, but fuck their cover of "Elisabeth Bathory."

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