ALBUM REVIEW: Torture Culture – No Warning

It’s been almost ten years since Toronto’s NO WARNING raged mercilessly against the machine, and with the release of third album Torture Culture, it’s safe to say that the hardcore luminaries are back, sounding infinitely stronger and more pissed-off with the current state of humanity than ever before.

2002’s seminal Ill Blood undoubtedly established the band as stalwarts of the scene, yet there’s a newfound and irresistible starkness to this record; delivering a roaring smorgasbord of disparate sounds, the five-piece traverse seamlessly between that classic NYHC spirit all the way to the glorious post-grunge dirge of the early nineties. Fans and critics alike would later question follow-up LP Suffer, Survive’s gravitation towards the mainstream, but with this release, NO WARNING not only succeed in satisfying the old-school contingent, but also take the hardcore genre to a new level.  These guys haven’t just taken their cues from the past or fellow contemporaries, but instead they’ve studied the intricate essence of what’s come before and made it their own – through personal discontent they’ve achieved symbiosis.

Ablaze with chugging riffs, thunderous bass drops and frequent injections of melodic groove, opener Headless and the street-metal bounce of CRO-MAGS-charged banger Unreality hurtle towards you at 200mph before smashing into you. Repeatedly. The feral vitriol that seethes through Ben Cook’s vocals underpinned by that reverb-drenched distortion nods firmly towards the Bay Area thrash sensibilities of METALLICA and SLAYER, which is not entirely surprising given the presence of Joel Grind (of neo-thrashers TOXIC HOLOCAUST) on production duties. The blistering solo that erupts from the filth-ridden bowels of neck-snapper Hell Realm would reduce even the most hardened metal fan to a quivering heap, and is a guaranteed pit-starter in a live capacity. Total Surrender is awash with hooks that will bury themselves deep within your cranium, whilst pulverising lead single In The City harnesses the type of nostalgic intensity, grime and raw ethos of the menacing streets from which these guys draw inspiration from – melding antagonistic punk with anthemic rock overtures. The omnipresent grooves of previous NO WARNING records are never too far away – pummelling drums sit alongside raging, complex riffs (Like A Rebel) whilst the glorious dirge-like catharsis of Beyond The Law is wonderfully reminiscent of early 90’s MADBALL or BAD BRAINS. 

Fury aside, the Toronto mob easily prove their crossover appeal and worth with both Alleys Of My Mind and melancholic ballad Sanctuary which sits firmly somewhere between DIO and Dirt-era ALICE IN CHAINS Cook‘s soaring cleans on the latter invoke a heavy sense of angst and yearning – pointing towards a band grasping their way towards that seemingly elusive light. Uncompromising, always unapologetic and with the resolute conviction that burns fiercely behind it, Torture Culture is the proverbial middle finger to anyone who questioned NO WARNING’s propensity for longevity. It’s taken time and suffice to say this time has been turbulent – but these guys are resurrected, they’re realigned and they’re bringing the fucking noise and it’s as authentic as it has ever been.

Rating: 7/10

Torture Culture - No Warning

Torture Culture is out now via Last Gang Records/SPV.

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Sophie Maughan

Friendly Northerner let loose in Birmingham. Known to get a bit wild after one too many tequilas. Heavy metal is my only religion. Sun worshipper. Also enjoying life as a music journo for Metal Hammer, Terrorizer, Prog and PureGrainAudio.