Tourniquet was a speed/thrash band founded by Ted Kirkpatrick, who is now known as one of the best technical drummers. Ted writes most of the songs and also plays rhythm guitar. Tourniquet caused controversy on their debut album ‘Stop The Bleeding’ with the track ‘Ark of Suffering’ which has a biblical take on animal abuse and experiments (with an equally disturbing video for it). Tourniquet hit their prime in 1993 with ‘Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance’ by incorporating classical music into heavier guitar riffs. There were shouted vocals, aggressive drumming and a darker atmosphere than previously. They were so brilliant that they were signed to Metal Blade Records for the release of ‘Psychosurgery’ and ‘Pathogenic’ to the secular market. They changed to a heavy metal/hard rock sound in 1994 and Metal Blade opted out of releasing any more albums for a time. However, Metal Blade was back on board for Microscopic View (2000), where they returned to thrash. They peaked with ‘Where Moth And Rust Destroy’ (2003) with most of the guitar solos being performed by former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman (and the remaining two by Bruce Franklin from Trouble).
Tourniquet returned with Antiseptic Bloodbath (2012) and followed up with ‘Onward To Freedom’ (2014).
Donovan de Necker’s review of their previous album stands true for this one too. “The songs are epic compositions, translated through a large arsenal of instruments via extremely talented individuals.” Both of these albums concentrate on PETA themes (establishing and protecting the rights of all animals).
If you are still reading, then hold on for a bumpy ride (and put down that burger!).
The album begins with a piano intro, and then ventures into new territories as they meld thrash with the hair metal king (Michael Sweet). “Onward to freedom / Compassion is what I give to you / And mercy within me / Is what I show to you”. But there is a further jolt to the system as it drops down a gear into hardcore chugging with Mattie Montgomery, before shifting back up for hard rock guitar shred. This is a track suffering from an identity crisis!
Having thrown virtually everything and the kitchen sink in, it’s a relief that the ‘The Slave Ring’ sticks to a thrash template with Mattie Montgomery’s vocals and Chris Poland’s guitar solo. This is about the blood sport where dogs trained to fight each other for entertainment. There is another change in direction with ‘The Noble Case for Mercy’ having a melodic background and being narrated by Ed Asner for the first public service announcement. There are some lighter sections in with the mid-tempo thrash of ‘Let the Wild Just Be Wild’ and extended guitar solos featuring Rex Carroll.
Then it’s the turn of Doug Pinnick to exert his influence in ‘No Soul’. Whilst I am sympathetic to the animal rights cause, I’m not ready to debate whether animals have a soul similar to humans. It is followed by ‘If I Had to Do the Killing’. Unlike most of the population, I grew up on a cattle farm. We treated the livestock humanely, but ultimately they went to the slaughter house and onto our plates. The Aaron Guerra riffage along with Kevin Young’s vocals makes for a great track.
They revisit the Psycho Surgery album with a revamp of ‘Stereotaxic Atrocities’ with Luke Easter (vocals) and Marty Friedman (guitar solo). Back to the present, there is the keyboard instrumental ‘Animal Crossing at the Rainbow Bridge’ leading into ‘Drowning In Air’, which has a mixture of clear and growling vocals as thrash meets metalcore. There is a final twist with ‘Cage 23’ being a mawkish power ballad with a public service announcement about animal shelters.
Ultimately it is up to the fans to decide whether they want another concept album full of animal welfare issues.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
1. Onward to Freedom Prelude
2. Onward to Freedom
3. The Slave Ring
4. The Noble Case for Mercy
5. Let the Wild Just Be Wild
6. No Soul
7. If I Had to Do the Killing
8. Virtual Embryo
9. Stereotaxic Atrocities
10. Animal Crossing at the Rainbow Bridge
11. Drowning in Air
12. Cage 23
Ted Kirkpatrick Drums
Michael Sweet Guest vocals (track 2), Guitars (lead) (track 2)
Mattie Montgomery Vocals (lead – Track 2, 3)
Chris Poland Guitar solo (track 3)
Nick Villars Vocals (tracks 3, 5, & 11)
Ed Asner Narration (track 4)
Rex Carroll Guitar solo (track 5)
Gabbie Rae Guest Vocals (tracks 5 & 12)
Doug Pinnick Guest vocals (track 6)
Bruce Franklin Guitar solo (track 6)
Aaron Guerra Guitars (track 7)
Kevin Young Guest vocals (track 7)
Luke Easter Vocals (on track 9)
Marty Friedman Guitar solo (track 9)
Tony Palacios Guitar solo (track 11)
Blake Suddath Guest Vocals (track 11)
Ashley Argota Narration (track 12)
Record Label: Pathogenic Records, Nov. 2014
Video below ‘The Noble Case For Mercy’
Lyric video ‘Onward To Freedom’