Torii – A Judgement Divine

Rating: 4.5/5
Released: 2018
Label/Distributor: Self Released
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Album Track Listing
  1. Army of Sand
  2. Theory of Existence
  3. The Grand Banquet
  4. Dirus Serpens
  5. Gates of Paradise II: The Cold Masque of Romance
  6. A Judgement Divine
Band Line Up

Bill Masimo – All Instruments
Eric May – Vocals


In my ignorance, I thought that all Arkansas consisted of was pigs, desert and Bill Clinton. You can add Torii to that list now too. Playing superlative extreme metal, ranging from crushing to thoroughly maudlin, this is arresting stuff. Since 2012 the band have amassed six full-length albums, and yet they remain unsigned. This is grossly unfair as there are many inferior bands with record deals. It is a remarkable feat that the band keep going and have the will to self-release their output.

The protracted intro of opener “Army of Sand” sends a chill down the spine. Slow and filled with melancholy, it is possessed of a sense of yearning rather than rage. This bewitching miasma is augmented by some truly divine lead guitar motifs. Next up is the heavier-than-an-elephant’s-genitalia “Theory of Existence”; still sombre but more driven and insistent, this is sublime stuff. The band continue their rich vein of form with “The Grand Banquet”, a suffocatingly bleak foray into the darker echelons of the soul, a sense of pathos pervading throughout.

Dynamics are shown with the peculiar and beguiling instrumental “Dirus Serpens”, a trippy and ethereal interlude which leads nicely into the sorrowful shuffle of “Gates of Paradise II – The Cold Masque of Romance”, a song packed with hurt and menace. It is akin to being to being pierced by a thousand thorns but still being able to appreciate the beauty of the flowers. The band sign off in stirring style with the title track, a procession of yet more heartache and poignancy, bring to a conclusion a truly devastating emotional experience.

All six songs are threaded through with a sense of heartsick desperation. It may sound paradoxical, but the soul-poisoning despondency on show here is actually rather uplifting. The vocals, although acid-coated and hoarse deliver a feeling of desolation. Great stuff.
Review by Owen Thompson