Ever wanted to know what “Children of the Grave” would sound like if the world had ended and Ozzy was very, very sad? Well, Torture Garden’s first demo, “Rotisserie Of Pain”, is the place for you. To be honest, this unconventional doom is indigestible enough to have taken me a few attempts to fathom, but the band – brothers Adam and Matt – designed it that way, with the warning “this isn’t easy listening, but hey, it isn’t easy living”, and if you persevere you will find something interesting here.
The treatment of the Sabbath track is revealing of the band’s modus operandi, being sparse, slowed down, weird, pained, sad, doomy and smack-in-the-face primitive. “Dripping” is a serious piece of discordant night fear, with Adam’s distinctive vocals –a nihilistic, intoned, flat drone punctuated occasionally with a frankly savage black metal-style screech – miring things up even more. “Everything Is Grey” vaguely evokes named influence Anathema in its warm lead over gentle acoustic intro, but the whole ‘sounds like’ game is a useless exercise. Eventually this track opens out into a warm solo, and it is at this point that the reviewer realises that the band can create a big, full, accomplished sound, and that the parts that sound like an undead orchestra tuning up in a swamp are intentional. Oh she of little faith…
The tracks “Everything Is Grey”, “Friday On Hope Street”, and “If You Don’t Have Anything Positive To Say…” are the stand-out moments of the release, with “Friday…” especially hitting the high scores with its mixture of bassy meandering, warm atmospheric buzz, acoustic breaks and a whole lot of presence. I want to use the phrase ‘self-indulgent’ without sounding negative, just like I want to use the phrase ‘amateur’ without sounding patronising. Put it this way- the opposite of self-indulgent would be compliant, eager to please and herd-following: “Rotisserie of Pain” has a dead sheep on the cover. Professional would be fat and polished, with all the kinks and thought processes ironed out into a 'product', whereas what you’re getting here is the very beginning of a band that’s not afraid to be heard thinking out loud.
I don’t really know what this is. I know it’s doomy, that it’s warm and psychedelic at times, it’s discordant and horrible and angry at others. I know that it’s the beginning of a band’s development and talent and that they have a long way to go, but also that it has some surprisingly sophisticated moments, and that I enjoyed it. “Rotisserie of Pain” is raw; of course it is, it’s a first demo. But it’s also brave, and weird, and oddly moving. And free, which you can’t really argue with. Discover the beginnings of some big ideas here, and imagine them in five years’ time.