This is desolation. This is ruin. This is death and decay.
This is Shadow of the Torturer whose molesting death/doom dirges are simply devastating while also vast in their scope. Grief and sorrow run rampant through these vile slabs of sonic decay and anguish, a palpable sense of hopelessness dripping from each spine-tingling lead guitar line, which is met by an equally morose guttural vocal. The Portland band borrows many of the shades from Mourning Beloveth and Indesinence’s palettes but has contorted the model into something that they can call their own.
With just two expansive dirges on this new full-length Dronestown, Shadow of the Torturer expresses a great deal of agony and sorrow with sparse structures. A gurgling voice introduces us to Dronestown, on ‘Indianapolis/Ukiah’, its meaning difficult to comprehend as it blathers on until towering lead guitars cut straight through the harrowing atmosphere and things take a turn for the even more austere. It’s 18 minute of trudging darkness.
Second offering, ‘We Are a Righteous People/Guyanais’, is a similarly lengthy jaunt at 21 minutes, where it steps out of traditional death/doom styling for a moment. Slow crushing riffs are overtaken by various recordings and samples of people clearly in distressing situations.
We have no context for these people or their plight but their tones of voice and their desperation is overwhelming. The setting feels like it may be an area recovering from the destruction of a natural disaster. These different recordings capture people voicing angry tirades and heated arguments all the while the sound of children crying in the distance haunts the listener. This malaise of human sound is abject misery.
Around the 12 minute mark, those caustic vocals emerge again, only to serve up another round of despondency until the closing minutes of the album and the misery washes over you one last time.
Dronestown is harrowing and hopeless. As its final notes wither away, you can’t help but feel that we are all well and truly doomed and that glimmer of hope we saw at the end of the tunnel is long extinguished; definitely one of 2013’s best doom records so far.
Dronestown is available digitally through the band’s Bandcamp page