Basement Torture Killings – Lessons In Murder

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label:  BLP – Bizarre Leprous Production
Released: 2020
Buy Album: Lessons In Murder | Basement Torture Killings
Band Website: Basement Torture Killings – Home

Band line-up:

Tarquin – guitars, vocals
Faceless Killer – drums
Beryl – vocals
K­­­­—– – bass

Tracklisting:

1. Armchair Psycho Or Pure Predator
2. The Three-Step Hit Formula
3. DIY Store Murder Kit
4. Exercising Your Dominance
5. Erotophonophillia (Lust Murder)
6. Public Displays of Aggression
7. Psychoflage
8. Resolving the Body Problem
9. The Pen Is Mightier Than Another Splayed Corpse
10. Objectification
11. The League of Extraordinary Killers

Review:

Formed in 2007, snuff-grinding death-metallers Basement Torture Killings from London, UK are back with their fourth full-length Lessons In Murder. The record serves as a fictional guide, aimed at fledgling killers. The concept album is complete with sound effects such as the gargling screams of dying victims and bodies squelching as they are being hacked up… most definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Armchair Psycho Or Pure Predator’ begins the album with the woman narrator telling listeners about the nature of the audio guide over a jaunty jingle, before exploding into a throat-(g)ripping opener. Over a barrage of blistering instrumentation, front-woman Beryl and guitarist-vocalist Tarquin belt out lyrics that instruct the listener and explore the makings of a murderer.

A computerised female voice explaining the meaning behind a criminology term introduces ‘The Three-Step Hit Formula’. Beryl’s shrieks and Tarquin’s growls are backed by the relentless assault of the rhythm section.

Emerging with the sound of hammering drums followed by ravaging riffs, third “lesson” ‘DIY Store Murder Kit’ wastes no time invading ears in just under two minutes. The lyrics act as a sick shopping list of everyday items killers need at their disposal, with some darkly comical lines about tools used to mutilate body parts.

Exercising Your Dominance’ hosts some winding guitars, while the bassline rips remorselessly through the entirety of the fourth instalment. There is some stellar stick-work from Faceless Killer throughout ‘Erotophonophillia (Lust Murder),’ with pulverising beats serving as the backbone to this blistering track. One of the longer “lessons” on the audio guide, though there is enough going on to keep the listener engaged throughout.

Public Displays of Aggression’ paints a non-cuddly meaning behind the abbreviation PDA, with a killer solo halfway through that interrupts its speedy delivery. ‘Psychoflage’ contains a well-executed breakdown later followed by a meaty axe solo not long after.

Starting off with a sample in the style of a news report, ‘Resolving The Body Problem’ makes references to North London serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Given how Nilsen was eventually caught and the choice of title, it seems that this track has the intention of instructing killers on how to dispose of bodies discreetly without being caught. The pig squeals in the last half add another layer of filth to the track.

The Pen Is Mightier Than Another Splayed Corpse’ is laden with ravishing riffs and mind-splitting vocals, but packs a little less of a punch than the previous and following songs. It does feel a tad too long, considering the fact it has no sample introduction. Although averaged out by others, it’s still a great listen, just not the most attention-grabbing on this release.

Penultimate number ‘Objectification’ is the most successful of the half dozen that utilise samples, as it does exactly what is says on the tin. One would expect a track like this to appear before one about body disposal on the “audio lesson” (‘Resolving the Body Problem’), as this one deals with how to perceive a victim prior to killing them. Beryl & Tarquin roar the title several times in the choruses to crushing effect over the equally devastating instrumentation. The axe-work is fantastic, especially during the verse, blending well with the vocals. Some sharp riffs tear through the rest of the song, resulting in a fierce finish.

The final lesson in murder ‘The League of Extraordinary Killers’ is bludgeoning from the get-go. A section signalling the end of the learning experience would not have gone amiss here, but the solos from Tarquin more than make up for that.

It would have been interesting to hear some more of the instructional elements delivered in the sample sections of songs as the words can be heard much more clearly than the unclean vocals of both vocalists. These sampled sections always serve as introductions to the songs where they do appear, hearing at least one mid-song would have provided more variety between the tracks. However, the emotion and atmosphere of the album does a lot to convey the environment of a serial killer with effects occasionally mimicking the sounds one would hear while a murder is being carried out. BTK have progressed by leaps and bounds with Lessons In Murder, no doubt many fans will be curious to see how the band eventually translate some of these “lessons” into a live performance.

Review by Kira Levine

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