Torok - Binge And Purge

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Nightmare Records (dist.)
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:02:00

If you can imagine how Poison would sound trying to play a faithful cover of a Metallica classic circa Metallica and missing the mark then you will have some idea of what Torok sound like. This is the very thought I had listening to "Shame" which opens Binge And Purge. This track has vocalist Bryan Erickson try to take his Bret Michaels-style voice into James Hetfield territory a la "Enter Sandman" (a motif that recurs throughout the album), and not really successfully. It has that ring of a band that once played sexist pop-metal trying to "get serious" because "serious and hard" have come into fashion. All this is really down to vocalist Erickson. And it's not that I didn't particularly care for Poison - I didn't, though I did like "Every Rose Has A Thorn" - but that vocals and music don't come across as the right mix.

While the crunchy metal has the right amount of chug, and guitarist Michael Torok (Impaler), bassist Aaron Davis, and drummer Eric Althaus (ex-Equinox/Vox Tempus) seem to work well together as an instrumental unit, when the vocals come in, it seems to throw them off. Overall, the quartet could use some tightening up. This comes across as an especially weak effort when you look at the cover and the album's title and think you are going to hear some brutal, bone crushing metal. Maybe it's the production, but this could hardly be called "in your face" - though it tries.

It does seem like a debut affair to me, however (though it is their second release). They sound like the local band who'll never really make out of the club circuit. Kinda harsh to say, I know. But with a little work and maybe a different vocalist - Erickson's not bad, but he doesn't seem suited to the music backing him - might tweak the band up a notch. Interestingly enough, Erickson was one of the founding members, though over time the name of the band evolved into Torok.

The ideas are there -- some interesting bass lines from Davis open "Amidst The Lies;" some beefy percussion opens "Useless War," which has a guitar phrase that seems lifted from Journey's "Lights" -- but the execution needs some work. The feeling of Journey reappears in some of the more lyrical guitar work from Torok on "Free," which also has a few hints to the Yardbirds ("I'm A Man"), but otherwise does have the feel of being a fairly routine piece.

They do seem come together a little more on the snappy, energetic, popish "How Much More," which has a late 60s feel about it - think Badfinger and the like. While it's not a great performance, this one of tracks I like the most. "Shine On" is going for the heavy Deep Purple kind of feel, and does remind me a bit of that band's early efforts ? though some other elements are brought in which are not so Purple. Hmm?think "Mississippi Queen."

Production-wise, there's a little rawness to it, and Erickson's vocals are recorded very dry. Of course, better production will help, too, as overall there's a fuzziness to it. I should note that, according to the band's website, "Binge & Purge was recorded totally 'old school' on tape and for the most part live." Not to pick on Erickson, but I think he'd do better in a band where he didn't need to roughen his voice with a growl. Given the harshness of some of the arrangements, the songs need a vocalist for whom the growly vocals seem more natural.

Binge And Purge is okay, but I feel there's more work to be done if Torok want to rise to the top of the pack.

Shame (3:12) / Amidst The Lies (5:39) / Binge & Purge (5:04) / Useless War (4:55) / Free (8:02) / How Much More (3:43) / Shine On (4:44) / Follow (4:25) / Cry For Dawn (4:45) / Immortal (3:09) / Wings Of A Butterfly (4:24)

Michael Torok - guitars, vocals (7), bass (3, 5, 7, 8, & 10)
Aaron Davis - bass
Bryan Erickson - vocals and harmonies
Eric Althaus - drums

Silence (1996)
Binge & Purge (2001)

Genre: Traditional Metal

Origin US

Added: February 11th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1291
Language: english


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