The press materials for Truent‘s debut album Through The Vale of Earthly Torment recommend it for fans of early Revocation, early Gojira, Fit For An Autopsy, and Archspire. Those turn out to be good clues to what this Vancouver-area band have achieved on their first full-length following a pair of EPs.
Across eight tracks, most of them rushing ahead at a turbocharged pace, Truent create an electrifying death metal amalgam that features tour de force technicality, non-stop prog-metal adventurism, eye-popping vocal barbarity, and grooves that hit hard enough to cause visions of ruptured organs. To leap ahead in our review, which precedes a premiere stream of the entire record one week before its release, it’s a true spectacle of sound, an experience that’s both head-spinning and bone-smashing.
Photo Credit: Savannah Bagshaw
“Blood and Dust” kicks things off by presenting a vivid initial display of those key musical ingredients — mercurially swirling and darting guitar maneuvers that create kaleidoscopic adventures; bludgeoning, lead-weighted bass lines; fast-changing drum patterns of considerable variety; and a blend of wild howls, savage roars, and berserk screams. It’s a high-energy thrill-ride, but laced with unexpected instrumental segments that briefly give the mind a different and more subtly seductive kind of spin.
That combination of rampant savagery, brute-force groove, head-spinning guitar virtuosity, sorcerous off-speed breaks, and eye-popping vocal insanity becomes the mainstay of other tracks on the album. But the opening track doesn’t exhaust the ingredients that Truent weave into their sonic alchemy. They briefly bring in clean singing (and gritty near-singing), soloing that soars and bursts in magnificent fireworks displays or slithers and spirals, and a cornucopia of changing tempos and moods.
In many ways, every song is an elaborate spectacle, intricate in their construction and technically very impressive in their execution. Because the pacing is usually fast, and the production brings clarity to all the many moving parts, those qualities are even more eye-popping. But the jolting and jackhammering grooves, delivered with bone-smashing and neck-wrecking impact, are almost always in the mix too, as are melodic through-lines that create feelings of mystery and menace, hysteria and ecstasy, ferocity and fury, and high-flying splendor.
Special mention should also be made of “In the Mire”, a relatively brief by thoroughly captivating instrumental that veers way off the band’s usual pathways — an experience that makes the brutal explosiveness, venomous viciousness, and maniacal fretwork of the next song “Scathe of Branches” even more startling.
Really, the album as a whole is a high-powered, head-spinning spectacle, and one where there’s never any temptation to leave before it has run its head-long course.
We’d also like to share with you the following statement from the band, which gives further insights about the album and what inspired it:
“Written and recorded while the world was being ravaged by the pandemic, Through the Vale of Earthly Torment was an exercise in escapism for us from the grim realities of life in turbulent times. While not a concept album in the traditional sense, we turned to themes of mythology and lore, exploring how people from all corners of the globe across all time periods have used myths to create vivid descriptions of their values. Each song centres itself around a creature or deity, and each of these entities are made to represent one of the seven deadly vices, giving the album a consistent through-line to follow.
“Musically, we expanded our sound with influences from all across the heavy music spectrum in order to create the most dynamic record we could. The songs weave together pummeling and technical riffs, triumphant choruses, and a number of oddball moments that hit seemingly from nowhere. There’s a wide mix of subgenres and sounds we explore throughout the album, often within the same song. We incorporate elements of everything from tech death to thrash metal to metallic hardcore into the records core sound of groove-filled progressive death metal. We do not want to be an easy band to categorize, and we feel this record is our most diverse work to date.”
Here are the people who should take a bow for this music:
Spence McIntosh: Bass
Matthew Pancoust: Lead/rhythm guitar
Daniel Clark: Rhythm guitar
Nic Landry: Drums/percussion
John Roodenrys: Vocals/acoustic guitar/additional rhythm guitar
Through The Vale of Earthly Torment will be released on June 17th. It was produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Tim Creviston (Spiritbox, Angelmaker, Misery Signals). Keaton Campbell from Of Modern Architecture provides guest vocals on “Scathe of Branches”. And the album’s attention-seizing cover art was created by Caelan Stokkermans.