Band Line Up:
Superstar Joey Severance – Vocals
Tommy Shred – Guitar
Henri Steel – Bass
Jimmy Grey – Drums
01: A Minute of Nothing
02: White Horse of the Apocalypse (feat. Karl Sanders/Nile, Additional Vocals: Niko Kalliojärvi/ex-Amoral)
03: Global Pandemic
04: Spirit and Opportunity (Additional Vocals: Ross Dolan/Immolation)
05: The Flight of Yuri Gagarin
06: Endless Forms of Torment (Additional Solo: Adam Phillips/Pro-Pain)
07: Through Difficulties to Victory
09: Chaos among the Ruins
10: United Forces (S.O.D. Cover)
11: At the Chapel of Rest (Additional Solo: Glen Drover/ex Megadeth)
What do Tornado mean by their “Commitment to Excellence?”
By their own account, the American/Finnish metalheads consider this album to be more of what they do best. Specifically, using their own blend of thrash metal and sleazy glam to write songs the listener “can actually remember!” They have certainly pulled in some quality support from several other well-known bands to add to their heavy metal sonic brew. Members (past and present) of Nile, Amoral, Immolation, Pro-Pain and Megadeth all make appearances throughout the album’s run time and it’s fair to say, their presence does earn this record a few points for effectively blending a mixture of styles.
Kicking things off is a brief post-hardcore mechanical thump that will appeal to anyone who listens to Unsane or Prong. Far from A Minute Of Nothing as the title suggests, it actually ushers in a muscular sound that seamlessly continues into second track, White Horse of The Apocalypse before we are catapulted into our first traditional thrash riff. From this point Tornado are pitching themselves musically in the same ball park as classic era Anthrax or Testament. The band have certainly got the chops for the task and blast out an effective soundtrack that includes some hammering drums underneath some impressive fret work from the appropriately named, Tommy Shred.
Superstar Joey Severance‘s snotty vocal delivery gives this album a punkish edge. So much so, when he is joined by Karl Sanders (Nile) and Niko Kalliojärvi (ex-Amoral), the death metal contrast is at first, quite jarring, but repeated listens smooth out the changes and ultimately represents an inspired dynamic shift. So far so good…
The album’s first “what the fuck” moment comes during the song, Global Pandemic, which actually has me grasping for the notes to see if I haven’t missed something important. Taken out of context, the song’s chorus – which confrontationally chants “fuck you” to various racial and minority groups – has already been removed from YouTube for “promoting” hate speech.
Before you pass judgement and move on… don’t believe the hype. The band wearily explain on their Facebook page, that “anyone who follows this band already knows that we don’t support ANY kind of hate. The lyrics reflect the world we live in.” Joey Severance goes on to say that he makes a conscious effort to write his lyrics as clear and to the point as possible so he doesn’t have to explain them, adding, “You are smart, figure it out!”
It is clear Tornado’s agenda is to turn the spotlight on inequality and intolerance; hatred being the global pandemic they are referring to. Off the back of their last album (Black President) Joey became involved with anti bullying agencies when the song, David and Goliath was picked up and used for national anti bullying awareness campaigns.
The point could be made at this juncture that Tornado’s “Commitment to Excellence” is actually about taking action for meaningful, positive change.
Indeed, Spirit of Opportunity highlights that Tornado know how to pair their social commentary with some great, heavy, textured riffing. Ross Dolan from Immolation is drafted in on this song to provide some of the albums lowest, guttural vocals.
From here the band continue to twist through variations on a thrash theme. Arpeggiated chords and atmospheric samples give way to shifting time signatures. Then, on Endless Forms Of Torment, a snotty, brattish beer keg rendition of Little Pig, Little Pig before Through Difficulties to Victory takes the listener on an prog-like interlude.
Tornado bring the aggression back for the anti-racism vitriol of Supremacy, which is matched for it’s anger and condemnation by Chaos Among The Ruins. Both songs are as heavy lyrically as they are likely to induce musical whiplash. Tornado are turning out a very credible effort indeed.
Towards the end of the record, there is a faithful cover of United Forces (originally by S.O.D.) that takes the listener up to the album’s climactic track, At The Chapel Of Rest. Notable for a guitar solo from ex-Megadeth man, Glen Drover, the song’s spoken verses and playful, staccato bounce reminds me of Suicidal Tendencies.
It makes for a satisfying conclusion to an album that has attempted to be many things – creative, thought provoking and viscerally heavy – I would say it has largely succeeded on all counts!
Well worth a listen.
Review By Beandog