Review: “Torture Portrait” by Rotnest

Shrouded in mystery, Rotnest are a masked trio from the United States of America who create Nu-Metal influenced Deathcore. They began their hellride to 2023 EP “Torture Portrait” three years prior, releasing the original mix of “Mono” in January 2020 and then following it with “Whirl” in September. 2021 saw “Torrent” bubble to the surface, the mention of personal Mental Health issues and suicide awareness an explanation for a slowdown in perpetual forward motion. But a KoRn cover added fuel to the fire seven months later…

A female voice of artificial intelligence gives a creepy almost Stanley Kubrick inspired touch as it breathes life into “Muse“, 110 seconds of violent turbulent Nu-Deathcore with a single elongated verse of pure cathartic venom. A thunderstorm riffs straight from the playbook of bands like Alpha Wolf and Dealer from the Australian scene smash the mirror in fear before evolving into “Mono“. Another bounce laden horror story with introspective lyrics of swirling darkness and jackhammer percussive battery, by the end it finds their vocalist reaching critical mass, getting free of the shriller screams and bleeding pure Slam inspired Deathcore growls as he spits, snarls and grunts his way out of his own personal hell. The asylum is beckoning as the levels of schizophrenic insanity rise with “Whirl“, a cut that previously saw release in 2020. It hasn’t aged a moment, the dark energy driving it forward created in trauma and released through trephination as wave after wave of stuccato riff infestations hit like hammers to the skull. The demon once again rises from his put with the deeper unclean lows in the tail end as the band reach and touch the void into downtempo brutality with stunningly horrific skill.

As a genre, Deathcore is notorious for guest appearances and here Cody Blencowe of Desolate fame lends his throat to “Chimera” to devastating effect. He offers a third voice with which tear the mind apart from the inside out as the breakdowns stack up higher than pancakes at a dinner for breakfast. Augmented by programming the intensity of this one reaches blistering levels but just when you thought they couldn’t get any darker, they bring out the dead with “Torrent“. A haunting lead riff reminiscent of “Issues” era KoRn adds verve and swagger to this punishment beating, not the mention fuel to the fire. How do you increase the intensity from a position of absolute power? You turn to DJent fuelled Gloom Metal riffs and Buster Odeholm inspirations for a grand finale in “Hell” that is as savage as they come. Those angular riffs are spine juddering each one stabbing at the cerebral cortex like a pin rammed into a voodoo doll by a witch scorned. Rotnest may not have included their cover of  “Here To Stay” by KoRn on this EP but it was recorded in the same sessions by the same line up so we find no harm in adding it to our review and giving it some attention. Faithful to the original, the band use their guitar tone and drum sound with surprisingly clean vocal to mimic Jonathan Davis before increasing the intensity with their usual shriller screams. This version feels more refined, more tightly bound and gagged, which in turn increases the energy levels while not taking away anything of the original. It’s subtle and intriguing while like the original, fearfully addictive. All in all a fine debut with plenty of variety and opportunity for growth in may different directions [8/10]

Track Listing

  1. Muse
  2. Mono
  3. Whirl
  4. Chimera (ft. Cody Blencowe of Desolate)
  5. Torrent
  6. Hell
  7. Here To Stay (KoRn Cover)

Torture Portrait” by Rotnest is out now and available over at bandcamp.

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