It has been a long time since we had any new material from Welsh band Tor Marrock but then again they have always been somewhat elusive, doing things at their own pace and then popping up and surprising with some new musical gems. Their obscurity makes them somewhat more intriguing too. They have not got a strong presence with social media and rarely play live. I was fortunate enough to see them on what I believe was their only London show but that was so long ago that the venue is now a faceless coffee shop. Still their excellent 2006 demo ‘The Death Of Summer’ caught my radar and completely impressed alongside the album ‘A Gothic Romance’ the following year and I was really pleased to see that they had this new album coming out via what I can only describe as an equally obscure (although perhaps more new than anything) Swedish label.
The bands masked image is completely unique as is there style which they describe as ‘cellar metal’. However it is instantly identifiable as soon as play is pressed and the title track chugs in due to the glistening gothic textures of the guitars and the rough and rugged vocal rasps of singer Tor. I guess if you had to categorise you would put this in several sub genres with elements of death, black, gothic and post-punk all lurking within the sound. Yet there is no other band I could namedrop into describing them as sounding like, the closest one could get is possibly Type O Negative but there is still a void between them and this is what really appeals to me about their music. It’s quite a hostile opener and sets about showing the band mean business. The galloping urgency of ‘Born In Blood’ with the title being barked out, gets right under the skin and the skeletal guitar solos that unravel between the numbers full on parts take me right back to the dark side of the 80’s. Everything is pretty compact about this album, it’s a quick and accessible 35 minutes and the eight numbers are dished out with panache and vigour, quickly getting to the point. Occasionally atmosphere builds as with the grandiose start of ‘Christ Betrayed’ but the storm is never far away and the brooding gives way to a pogo-laden, bouncy chorus before turning back and having the two disparate styles flirting with each other. Naturally my thoughts turn to the fact that this would no doubt be particularly good live.
There is a slight feel of depressiveness about ‘The Harbouring of Suicidal Thoughts’ as the title would have you expecting but this is counterpoised by some black thrashing that is so fast it literally slashes at you like it’s attacking with a very sharp knife. It’s all about heart, soul and yearning with The Night Always Ends.’ I guess it could be described as a ballad and you could also cite Fields Of The Nephilim and even The Mission in some of the harmony, which is rich and warmly draws you into its depths. However it’s the sing along elements of ‘The Waves’ that are the albums most memorable for me and the chorus is a killer one that once heard is near impossible to dislodge. With cymbals being hit like steel on an anvil the beguiling, slow and atmospheric ‘Why Do You Look in My Eyes’ is another slice of darkly textured beauty. ‘I Feel The Sun I Feel The Stars’ has plenty of passion within it and the guitars, melody and chorus again work fantastically together. The album is not going out quietly though as the drums suddenly go into a powerful rapture and the brooding turns into a weighty death like charge surging towards climax but of course not without giving us one last glimpse of the sun and stars before it is done!
This took me a few spins and at first I thought this was a bit too short and perfunctory for its own good but once the richness of the song-craft and the power behind the numbers hit I was quick to dismiss such thoughts. I really want more for this band and would love them to be in the position to make it a lot bigger and play and even tour but if not well they are one of those secrets that I should have possibly kept to myself…. but that really wouldn’t be fair at all.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)