Album Review: The Troops of Doom – A Mass To The Grotesque

Album Review: The Troops of Doom - A Mass To The Grotesque

Album Review: The Troops of Doom - A Mass To The Grotesque
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Here’s one album I was particularly excited to get my hands on, knowing just how well their debut work was received. Formed in 2020 out of Minas Gerais, Brazil, The Troops Of Doom are a band who stormed out of the gates ready to play and destroy considering within their formative year, they released three Singles and an EP. The following year saw them release their The Absence Of Light EP as well as more Singles, in preparation for their first album launch. These efforts came to a head in 2022 where they’d release Antichrist Reborn to great praise and adoration, none more impactful than amongst the thrash metal community. So, just a little over two years on, The Troops Of Doom return for a second onslaught with A Mass To The Grotesque, covered with art by the legendary Dan Seagrave, helmed by an unchanged core lineup too. Directed towards a May 31st release date and continuing their partnership with Alma Mater Records, it’s time to see whether The Troops Of Doom can live up to the hype generated by their astonishing full length debut.

You have to appreciate The Troops Of Doom for providing such an impactful, no nonsense style of record that manages to walk that fine line between modern production values, and retro songwriting and aesthetics. Many bands write metal in a way whereby the influences are evident yet it’s all style and are using such influences as a crutch because their inherent songwriting doesn’t live up to expectations; The Troops Of Doom however exude a strong Sepultura influence (a given considering their Brazilian home) however, where this band differs, is audiences will pick up on this but The Troops Of Doom merely shrug their shoulders, carry on, and play music that’s wicked and cool to experience. The band wear their influences on their sleeve but their songwriting possesses more than enough identity to clearly distinguish themselves from those classic acts who inspire the multitudes of burgeoning acts. With that said, The Troops Of Doom also distance themselves from many newer bands too, for their style may be in line with retro thrash metal but it doesn’t try and stew too long in whatever segment is playing, even throughout a longer track. There’s always this sense of momentum driving the band forth wherein they don’t have time to stick around and celebrate themselves; there’s devastation afoot.

It’s in tracks like “Dawn Of Mephisto” and “Blood Upon The Throne” that showcase the exemplary understanding these guys have concerning audience engagement. It’s one thing to show how metal and ruthless your songwriting is, but it’s quite another for your audience to get instantly onboard with your soundscape and to then guarantee they’ll come back for return visits. It goes without saying their playing is fast, that’s practically expected with South American metal, but The Troops Of Doom excel greatly in their writing by laying out clear structure in their riffs so when things move and evolve it doesn’t seem so instantaneous; rather it’s laid out the way an engineer designs a structure where the girders all their place and can then support the higher stories. Yet it’s the way these tracks can open up to new vistas you’d never anticipate wherein their songwriting elevates from mere destruction to something more melodic. This isn’t melody applied like Power Metal would apply it; it’s something that expand the horizons fans will experience during particular tracks, and since “Dawn Of Mephisto” demonstrates this early into the record’s runtime we’ll be hopefully anticipating more surprises as A Mass To The Grotesque becomes not only exciting to listen to, but genuinely fun also. Tracks garner a greater sense of identity and thus they’ll stick with you longer after the album is done and dusted.

Album Review: The Troops of Doom - A Mass To The Grotesque

I think it helps immensely how sharply this record has been mixed together too. Listening to this band play feels like you’re right there at the cusp of the stage, your hands upon it, as the band play above you. You do have that lively proximity to the band as this record plays on. Other bands might have chosen to muddle everything together to craft a more cacophonous and crushing soundscape, however these guys have opted for a more defined, regimented approach where you can easily tell the difference of where a bass line ends and the drums behind, or where the vocals sit amidst the mix. In spite of that, I still couldn’t dub this album as remotely “clean” since there’s just enough grit under the record’s nails for us to consistently pay attention; it demands engagement and will not be satisfied unless your senses are glued to the record from one track to the next without hesitation. It’s a beautifully mixed record where the band knew what they wanted to accomplish, because their songwriting complements the choice of production flawlessly. Something more visceral, more malicious, wouldn’t have suited this mixing but the band’s old school style of thrash/death excels with this approach.

It must be said just how naturally organic the band’s flow is throughout the record. You go in expecting speed and that’s what you receive, but we mustn’t think that’s the sole tempo these guys play with. A record of sheer speed alone would be exhilarating, but it wouldn’t guarantee return visits; A Mass To The Grotesque is peppered with differing tempos and tracks of unique vibes that help separate one from the other. One track might be a flat out thrash attack, but within its songwriting are small moments where the riff calms down, and more methodical pieces take centre stage, pieces the band clearly highlight for you; there are tracks built more firmly around this steadier tempo and helps break up the record into a more digestible offering. Then you get a lengthy track like “God Of Bizarre” where vocals don’t even appear until we’re more than three minutes in; the band use the prior time immersing their audience within riffs and drums yet this buildup leading to the vocals’ implementation isn’t just for show as the band establish the foundation work for a longer track. Whatever tempo or vibe the band are vying for, you can bet the riffs and drums are working in synergy with each other to bolster whatever attitude the band are looking to propagate. It’s this ever changing dichotomy that keeps A Mass To The Grotesque churning and dipping high and low without it feeling like something overtly artificial. Like many classics records of yesteryear, it’s an extremely easy album to listen to.

In conclusion, A Mass To The Grotesque is a sublime record that is bound to get fans hyped and red in the face as they barrel through these eleven tracks with blood-boiling ease, only to replay it from the start all over again. It also serves as proof their debut album was no simple fluke, and The Troops Of Doom really have an understanding of what made metal like Sepultura so revered in their heyday. If The Troops Of Doom continue at this pace they’ll be a feared name in today’s world of thrash/death metal. They okay with an equal ferocity and finesse you don’t find everyday for, while they play with a confidence that’s to be admired they never let it go to their heads and thusly, their songwriting is nicely tempered with control, precise and discipline. The record knows when to skin you alive but also when to slowly lower you into that furnace and, given my numerous listens before writing this up, I can tell you this is a record worth your time and money. I’d love to see these guys live and can only imagine the body count such pits would result with. The Troops Of Doom have gone from an exciting new venture to a reliable, powerful force. Highly recommended.

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