Order of Torment is the second album, and first to hit this writer’s ears, from Washington D.C. trio Genocide Pact. Genocide Pact isn’t going to dazzle anyone with its traditional take on death metal. This band is neither Gorguts nor Pyrrhon. Genocide pact gives you riffs, and not much else, but sometimes the band gives you those riffs so good it hurts.
Order of Torment is a good sounding record, from a technical standpoint, but it’s a bare-bones affair. There’s no real atmosphere, precious little in the way of overt melody, and while the vocals are a serviceable, deep growl, they are entirely unintelligible and entirely unexceptional. There are some decent solos here and there, but nothing to write home about. This whole record lives and dies on the band’s ability to execute riffs, and fortunately, Genocide Pact hits more than it misses.
Label: Relapse Records
It is about midway through Order of Torment’s first track, “Conquered and Disposed” that Genocide Pact reveals itself as capable of something more than decent, run-of-the-mill death metal. Coming out of a doomy passage, drummer Connor Donegan briefly foreshadows the change with an up-tempo fill, and wham: the band is firing on all cylinders with a choppy, chugging groove. It brings a surprising bit of complexity via a sort of false ending that teases the next riff, but then slips back into gear. Donegan is masterful here, providing the double-bass bedrock for the groove, while dropping beats over the top with the precision necessary to punctuate the riff’s peaks and valleys.
Many of Order of Torment’s 40 minutes is taken up by slow-to-mid-paced material, which, regardless of quality, could have proven monotonous. Fortunately, as the record progresses, Genocide Pact cuts lose with enough bursts of legitimate speed to keep the proceedings feeling vital. “Pain Reprisal,” for instance, features an absolutely scorching passage that hits so hard, you just don’t want it to stop, and the otherwise perfectly fine solo/outro that follows can’t help but be a disappointment. Donegan, once again, shines here with brutal pummeling and even some straight-up blasting. “Structural Dissolution” sports a similar section of glorious, climactic ass-hauling that brings the tune to a satisfying conclusion after a rather plodding stretch of doom in the middle.
Overall, Order of Torment is a very good, occasionally excellent album. Another band could have made a record out of the same batch of riffs that comprise Order of Torment, and it likely would have been just another blade of grass in the vast field of old-school-leaning death metal albums. Genocide Pact, though, has that unqualifiable knack for arranging riffs in such a manner that each note really counts. Not all the time, but enough to make Order of Torment a success, and enough to have me eager for a successor.