Victims of Vile Torture

Expectations can be such a damn bummer sometimes. You go ahead and put your full effort into something because of trivial things like “passion” and “integrity” or whatever, and next thing you know you’ve got people like your boss, your spouse, your kids coming at you like “hey that last thing was great, you should do that again!” What kind of machine do you think I am?! GET OFF MY ASS. That’s why I keep my general output nice and adequate. Let me tell ya – “adequate” is the sweet spot. I practically preach at the church of “that’ll do.” “Huh, I guess that works,” your boss will say. “Ah, forget it, I’ll just do it myself” your significant other will conclude. You find that wheelhouse of “adequate,” and your life is GOLDEN my friend. You’re welcome for the free life lesson, by the way – just don’t get any ideas about expecting more of this kind of sage advice from me.

Oh, but I suppose there’s something to be said about putting yourself out there and giving it the full beans, about not holding back and trying to out-do yourself time and time again. If we hadn’t done that as a species, we’d all still be sitting in caves sustaining ourselves on, like, bugs and bat shit. Doesn’t sound ideal. So to all those out there reflecting on their accomplishments and saying, “I can do better,” I salute you, I guess. To that end, I guess I owe Staten Island Death Metal fiends Tombstoner the full 21 gun shebang – because on “Victims of Vile Torture,” they’ve levelled the hell up.

I don’t make that statement lightly – because I friggin’ LOVE last year’s debut EP, “Descent to Madness,” a unique and absolutely killer mix of Old School Death Metal and classic NY Hardcore that hits all the right notes for me, to the point that I wasn’t really sure how the band might top themselves. They honestly could have just said “fuck it” and done more of the same with their debut full-length, and I’d have been tickled pink. But while the Pandemic may have put the band’s touring and support of their debut EP on hold, it seems they used the down time wisely – building on the sound that made me fall in love with them and putting together a complete package of an album that should put them well on everyone’s radar if they haven’t already.

One thing you’ll notice this time around is that the band has taken a bit more of a subtle approach with their hardcore influences. Where songs like “M.Y.F.B.” and the killer breakdown of “Tombstoner” slammed you in the face with it, the influence is felt more in the band’s attitude and overall delivery on Victims of Vile Torture, most notably with Bassist/Vocalist Thomas Megill’s barking fury that counters so nicely with Jesse Quinones’ more traditional Death Metal bellowing. And as heavy as this album is, it still carries a mostly upbeat approach that keeps the energy level up and gets you moving as well any Sick of it All or Leeway record would. Look no further than the fucking excellent “Sledgehammer” or thrashy “Frozen in Fear” if you’re in need of a little kick in the ass to get the blood pumping, the latter boasting the kind of build up and bone-snapping breakdown that is dying for a big ol’ circle pit. Like, the kind you see and genuinely start worrying for people’s safety. It’s one of the band’s strongest tracks to date.

Where the hardcore-leaning aspects of their prior work have taken a little bit more of a back seat, a more generous portion of vicious death metal shines through, and not without taking a few risks and adding new elements to their arsenal. “Armageddon,” an ultra-heavy, bleak bruiser drags you down to the ground and pummels with an oppressive attack of pounding drums and hefty guitars, before settling down into a period of unsettling clean guitars, and launching into a really cool, and very much unexpected violin-led bridge that builds up into a furious crescendo that leaves you a little breathless and wondering just what the fuck happened. It’s a totally new element for the band I’d be more than happy to have appear again every now and then. I’m also loving the album’s final track, “Trepidation,” with it’s more evil, plodding approach over the first half of the song, before putting the pedal to the floor and rounding out the album in an absolutely epic fury – relentless blasts, some really busy and catchy guitar work, and another solid layer of those newfound orchestrations that again add a really nice touch without being overbearing or becoming a crutch. These are not elements I’d ever have expected to show up on a Tombstoner track, but the gamble has paid off.

There are a few “safer” tracks here like “Breaking Point” and “Grave Dancer.” Don’t mistake that as any kind of diss on these tracks – I just mean they’re closer to what I kinda expected for the band’s first full length. Descent to Darkness worked so damn well that I am genuinely – and as it turns out – pleasantly  surprised that the band chose to add so much so soon on this one.  So I guess, maybe, there might be something to this whole “try a little harder” thing – though now I’m just setting even higher, probably unattainable expectations for Tombstoner’s future. See? Double edged sword! But for now I’ll just take what I’m getting here with Victims of Vile Torture. Absolutely filthy.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
August 4th, 2021


  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    Killer album that just… works. When people think of metal and hardcore combining, they typically think of metalcore. This is not metalcore… but, yeah, this record is filthy. A solid year-end list contender.

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