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TORTURED SPIRIT (Arkham Sanitarium) CD

Compared to other doom bands, Germany's TORTURED SPIRIT is relatively quick when it comes to recording the next album. Two years have passed since the release of the debut 'The Mentally Ill' and once again the band collaborated closely with John Brenner (Revelation, Against Nature), who also released 'Arkham Sanitarium' in 2009 on his own label Bland Hand Records. First of all: the new album is definitely better than the first one which was already a quite reasonable start. Their own musical identity is now much more developed than in 'The Mentally Ill'. Sure, you can still discover a few of their influences, but not as easy as it used to be. Guitarist Oddy's vocal performance is now also significantly stronger and he has found his own style.

His expressive and unusual vocals perfectly impersonates the madness behind 'Arkham Sanitarium', because it's a concept album about the stories of H.P. Lovecraft and not about the world of Bob Kane and Bill Finger (creators of Batman). Another improvement is the production that sounds earthier than on the debut and in connection with sporadically interspersed keyboard/acoustic parts and a very few samples, TORTURED SPIRIT have managed to record an album that generates an oppressive atmosphere just like most of the stories from Lovecraft. I'm also pleased that John Brenner plays lead guitar on three tracks, because it works really fine. Particularly notable are songs such as 'Arkham Sanitarium' or 'The Isle', where they prove that they have enough ideas to also make long songs exciting.

Fortunately, TORTURED SPIRIT avoid to fullfil all doom metal cliches, which means they're heavy and influenced by early Black Sabbath (what else?), but not slow like an anaesthetized snail. In addition, I really like the weird, untypical artwork created by guitarist John Gallo (Orodruin, Necrochasm, Crucifist, Blizaro), who has also done the cover for 'The Mentally Ill'. 'Arkham Sanitarium' is a dynamic and varied affair, but there are a couple of moments where it looks as if the band is losing its power as for example in 'Dagon's Children'. A few of the riffs seem out of place and the rhythm section a little bit too hectic for my taste. Personally, in spite of my criticism, I think that 'Arkham Sanitarium' is an extraordinary release that can be ordered directly from the band. Please notice that this album comes with a cardboard sleeve.