When you’re stressed out, and life weighs down on you with all its crap, nothing serves as a better outlet than some raging, pulse-pounding metal. If you’re reading this right now, I know you’ve been there. In fact, recent scientific studies show that listening to metal can provide something of a cathartic release – rather than accentuating stress, it helps to release it. I say this because the new album by Texas-based metalheads Torrid Complex, “Left Behind,” is a fantastic album to put on and throw-down to when you crave that release that only good metal can provide.
Things start off strong with the opening track “Crawl,” and despite the title, this song does anything but. With vocals that evoke Phil Anselmo with their melodic gruffness and detuned, chugging guitars that hardly let off the gas, I’m definitely getting some serious Pantera vibes. But it’s more than the sum of its parts, thanks to the stellar, modern-sounding production that makes each snare hit feel like a punch to the jaw. The thrashy breakdown towards the last third of this song is something that will definitely stir the pit (see what I did there?). Track 2, “Twenty Two” (ha), opens up with a prison sirens and a relentless instrumental assault that is sure to starts some walls of death. Complete with a chorus memorable enough to scream along to, this anthem about rising above and living life to the fullest is both inspiring and vicious. The next track, “Gassed,” opens up with what sounds like the snare drum from an 1800s drum-head trial, before the guitar and bass lock into its groove with airtight tremolo picking. It’s a genuinely unique idea to base a song around, and with dissonant vocals and a somber pace, this song is definitely a stark contrast to the one proceeding it. The next tune, “On Your Feet,” seems to have been written directly to the listener, telling them that strength lies in unity through vicious growls, chugging riffs, and steady drum-work. I love that these guys can unite positivity with aggression, which has become something of a lost art for a lot of newer metal bands. Track 5, “Left Behind,” continues this trend, but again I just have to mention just how damn good this production is – the mix and mastering is top-notch.
Next up is “One in the Chamber,” which trades its message of unity for one of revenge. The song’s frenetic instrumentation and creeping pace complement the lyrics perfectly, and the closing guitar solo reminds me of something Disturbed’s Dan Donegan would have cooked up. Following this up is “Fallout,” a brief instrumental that gives us a break from the chaos with its chorus-laden clean guitar work. It is a welcome breath of fresh air before the rage-fueled “Blackheart” returns us to the status quo. Track 9, “Blind Man,” opens up with a bass solo before the other instruments join in. This one gave me serious “Sad but True” vibes throughout. Following this up is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s legendary “Immigrant Song,” and sadly I think it’s the album’s only real misstep up to this point. While it is true that I prefer cover songs that try to deviate from the source material a bit rather than just being a blatant copy, this mash of groove metal with that classic Zeppelin sound simply doesn’t work, as evidenced when the opening chant is replaced with the vocalist screaming “oh yeah.” Sadly, the penultimate track, “Love Song,” isn’t much better. Featuring droning, lifeless grunge-style vocals before awkwardly transitioning to a swinging rhythm, the only saving grace is a ripping guitar solo that is the best one that the guitarist has yet delivered. Fortunately, the closing track, “Chaos,” wraps things off on a high note, returning us to the sound that made the earlier tracks so badass.
If you like groove metal with top-notch production values and the attitude of late 90s/early 2000s metal bands, then “Left Behind” gets a strong recommendation from me. Sure, it may have a misstep here or there, but the good heavily outweighs the bad, making for an overall great album. Be sure to check out Torrid Complex at https://www.facebook.com/torridcomplex/
Overall Sound – 9 out of 10 (attitude-drive groove metal, refined with pro-quality mixing and mastering)
Overall Vocal Style – 8 out of 10 (powerful aggressive vocals drive the majority of this record, with cleaner vocals taking a back seat throughout)
Overall Song Composition – 8 out of 10 (heavy, groovy, and vicious, with just enough variety to keep things interesting)
Originality – 8 out of 10 (90s attitude meets modern metal)