Triumph And Torment
Review by Greg on March 31, 2023.
I've always gone to great lengths in order to advocate the modern reincarnation of thrash metal. Okay, the classics still occupy that special place in my heart like in everybody's, and I obviously know that the first signs of this millennium's renaissance weren't exactly the most refreshing (that would be impossible to deny), but you know, in the following almost twenty years, I've seen many newcomers that could hold their own against the old masters (my humble opinion, of course), and now in 2023, seeing the general state of the scene, which continues to thrive and produce quality works, another defense statement from yours truly could be rather redundant. Maybe. Or maybe not, since Invicta's latest offering Triumph And Torment once again proves to us that the creative blood of youngsters all around is still far removed from its final halt. Boy, this one's a treat.
My (indirect) first exposure to Invicta was last summer, at a Heathen concert. Front-/axeman Kyle Edissi was replacing Lee Altus at the lead guitar, not showing any kind of awe whatsoever, and killing it. Considering that also drummer Shareef Hassanien happened to have had a one-time appearance with the same cult band, I was quick to assume that their genre of choice would be similar, a clean, melodic twist to tech thrash. I couldn't have been more wrong – or better, technique and melody are there, but Invicta decided to go for an unquestionably harder-hitting approach. Edissi never attempts clean singing, rather growling and screaming, often layered, above the music, where Hassanien is not afraid to push himself to his limits, with effortless tempo changes, double bass barrages and hyper-tight blast beats. Between them, a sea of riffs, harmonies, solos, and whatnot... with a bass that may not seem equally flashy (although one could argue that merely following the guitars would still be one hell of a workout), but never fails to showcase the occasional flair, with a fat, satisfying tone as well. The artwork from the irreprehensible Pär Olofsson is just the tip of the iceberg, trust me.
It doesn't take much to notice, either. Opener 'The New Throne' is both the perfect introduction to the album and a mere teaser for what will come after. Classy thrashing, occasionally exceeding the genre's boundaries, with the first of several intense refrains and more than remarkable lead sections. Actually, the more I listened to it, the more Triumph And Torment's first half appeared to border on perfection. I'm thoroughly convinced that several tracks would be the kind of songs everyone wishes Revocation could write, whether it's the glorious, elaborate anthem 'Battle The Beyond' or the literal goldmine of riffs found in the incendiary advance single 'Forces of Annihilation'. Between them, the simply incredible 'Apprentice Of Death', which brings a generous dose of more extreme stuff, still finding time to deliver a simply beautiful solo, not to mention the terrific, awe-inspiring bridge that will trigger your 'fist in the sky' reflex with disarming ease. This song alone should be enough of a blow to anybody who still firmly believes that every modern thrash band does little more than retreading old ground.
With every track, my fear of stumbling upon a misstep by Invicta was growing more and more overwhelming, and Triumph And Torment does indeed lose a little bit of focus in its second half. Make no mistake, it's still excellent stuff, yet some tracks sound slightly less ambitious (the more straightforward thrashing of 'The Morning's Light' and 'Parasitic Reign'), or aiming for the same soaring, epic-sounding melodies, but not coming across as exceptionally inspired as the earlier examples. In any case, 'Embodiment Of Infamy' marks a late highlight, and along with the titanic, mini-suite closer and title-track constitutes the last vehicle for some more jaw-dropping shred goodness and memorable melodies all around. Needless to say, everything is worth more than a listen, considering the immense skills of the four musicians.
If I ever were to compile a list of my top 2023 albums, and to contextually forget to reserve a place for Triumph And Torment, Alzheimer's will be the only logical explanation. An hour long, it's true, but what an hour. It's works like this one that truly inspire me. Don't overlook it.
Rating: 9.1 out of 101.34k