TORN WITHIN - "Allied With Bitterness" (2004)

Metal Rules (USA)
Torn Within is a side project of Neuraxis’ Robin Milley, Yan Thiel and former vocalist Chris Alsop. One might expect that since 75% of this band is from Neuraxis, that Torn Within would take on much the same sound. Not so. While Neuraxis’ music tends to be technical death, Torn Within is more of a melodic death/thrash mix in line with At the Gates and even SYMBOLIC-era Death. Milley’s riffs are clean and much more pronounced than in Neuraxis and Alsop’s voice is also much cleaner (not “clean”…cleaner!). Even a female vocal sneaks in. This is a very interesting CD and quite a departure from these guys’ day jobs.

Milley’s riffing on “Dread and Memory” and “Dead Eyes React” aim higher than what the paint-by-numbers melodic death bands are cranking out today. While there aren’t the typical dual guitar riffs a la In Flames/At the Gates, the same energy is present that made those bands early albums sparkle. Alsop’s vocals are a raspy growl that don’t deviate much, but at the same time, this is pretty simplistic music (and I don’t mean that in a bad sense) and it suits it well. “King of the Ants” will never win any songwriting awards, but it is catchy (not commercial) and basic, straight-forward metal. “Spirit Lost” is an acoustic track with a haunting female vocals and it is the perfect centerpiece to their aggression that comes before and after it.

The band has also included four bonus tracks on ALLIED WITH BITTERNESS taken from their 1999 demo. While noticeably lesser in sound quality production-wise, the tracks stand up to the rest and are by no means considered “leftovers.” The lyrics of “Needle’s Eye” are especially good:

Dead men can't dance with the angels of hell.
Fuck them like whores and live to tell the tale.
The devil spawned rock n roll, read it in the cards.
Watched the joker screw the queen of ace clubs and hearts.

ALLIED WITH BITTERNESS manages to skirt the glaring clichés of most melodic death records and goes right for the jugular. If neuraxis decides to pack it in, the boys will have no problem riding their days out in Torn Within. I only wish all side projects were this good.

Rating : 4/5
Review by : Lord Of The Wasteland

Deadtide (USA)
God bless the fucking Canadians! You can always count on that part of the world to really appreciate technical thrash, and for that matter, just about anything else with that “t” word and good execution. So, alongside Quo Vadis, Martyr and Neuraxis lets add Torn Within to the list of quality metal contributors hailing from up there. The group’s sound on Allied With Bitterness, though the technical thrash part you can guess, is an excellent combination of latter day Carcass and Day Into Night era Quo Vadis…but overall somewhat slower. Moreover, Torn Within features both the bassist and guitarist from Neuraxis, so you know the presentation is fucking solid.

The tracks are more than adequately grooving and contain plenty of impressive instrumentation, making them extremely easy to get into. In addition, they’re all pretty short (none of the thirteen songs here passes 5 minutes, and most barely reach 3), so just as the band’s magic starts to wear off on one, the next song just gets going again. I think I could probably go on praising Allied With Bitterness is for a few pages, but it would probably be more concise just to say that if you appreciate the likes of Quo Vadis or Neuraxis, you fucking need to hear this CD. It’s all that you could imagine and then some.

Rating : N/A
Review by : Peter Johnston

Possessed (Germany)
Eine düsteres Cover kommt einen entgegen, wenn man die neue Torn within genau betrachtet. Ein Kampf der Engel gegen den Drachen, die Apokalypse halt. Schönes 8-Seitiges Booklet und eine gute Produktion, für die sich Yannick St-Amanda verantwortlich zeigt. Hm, es scheint sich also bei Torn Within um Kanadier zu handeln, und genauso ist es. 2 Mitglieder der coolen Combo Neuraxis sind mit am Bord und versuchen hier Elemente zu vereinbaren, die sie bei Neuraxis nicht herunterbekommen.Mal sehen, wie weit sie damit gekommen, denn ihre Mischung aus thrashigen Riffing a la Kreator und deathlastigem Schlagzeug klingt recht nett. Ziemlich melodisch das Ganze. Meloddischer Death/Thrash Metal, zum Glück ohne Mischung. Ein weites betätigungsfeld hat man sich ausgesucht, denn sowohl Fans von Kreator, aber auch Fans von At the Gates oder Death werden hieran wohl ihre Freunde haben. Schöner agressiver Thrashgesang kommt hinzu und macht die Sache perfekt. Das schöne „Spirit Lost“ mit Frauengesang zeigt die emotionelle Seite der Band, welche wohl auch für die Metalseite der Scheibe wichtig ist. 13 Songs erwartet euch und man sollte diese schon antesten, wenn man Melodie und Härte unter einem Hut gerne mag. Songs wie „ Dead Eyes React“ und „Flesh will deceive“ sind schöne nach vorne gehende Thrash/Death Songs. Nettes teilchen, obwohl sie meiner Meinung gegen Ende ein wenig müder werden.Trotzdem cool. Erscheint bei Galy Records.

Rating : N/A
Review by : N/A

Into Obsurity (USA/Canada)
Canada has been the center of my metal universe recently. For some reason, Neuraxis, Despised Icon and others have been at the top of playlist over the past few months. There's something about the cold north that creates a breeding ground for quality technical death metal. But what happens when one of these death metallers has some material saved up that wouldn't necessarily fit within the guidelines of his main band? A side project, of course.

Robin Milley, guitarist of Neuraxis, finds himself as the sole songwriter on the new Torn Within CD. But this stuff doesn't sound like Neuraxis Jr. and that's good. I can't stand when a band shares members AND sound. Instead, this is melodic thrash / death that feels like older Death or early In Flames material. Musically, this band bring quality musicianship and songwriting from the Canadian technical metal scene and force it into a different skin. It works really well. Many of the hooks and cliches of today's melodic metal are avoided. "Allied With Bitterness" isn't a catchy, radio-ready metal record by any stretch of the imagination. It's more challenging and less polished than that.

However, along with that slightly more barbaric sound comes some undesired side effects. In all its minimalist glory, the vocals on "Allied With Bitterness" seem flat. They lack emotion and dynamics. They seem to drone on, rather than changing with the music... very one-dimensional.

On top of nine originals, the band include four bonus tracks. Three of them are from their 1999 demo, but you wouldn't know from hearing them. They sound very close to what the band is producing now, five years later. And actually, the vocals have a bit more bite and feeling to them on the older stuff.

Torn Within have stripped melodic metal to its core essentials. "Allied With Bitterness" recalls a time when this type of music had emotion, before it become so factory-produced. Sometimes it might be even a little too bare, but still, anyone that can remember the times before the fall of melodic metal should appreciate this album.

Rating : N/A
Review by : danowar

Flex Your Head (USA/Canada)
Torn Within definitely have that “hardcore kids go metal” feel about them, although with two members of the ripping Neuraxis on board you can bet they have more true roots than that shitty band in your town currently swiping At the Gates riffs and hoping no one will notice. Still, when the dudes deck themselves out in Dillinger and Black Dahlia Murder shirts in their band picture, it comes off just a bit contrived. No complaints about the melodic thrash on Allied with Bitterness though, this reminding me a lot of Vancouver’s awesome Soulscar (and that’s always more than welcome around here). Minor complaints are the monotone vocals which never venture out of the same “metal dude” register (also a drawback with Soulscar) and the sometimes plodding, mid-tempo-ness of at least half of these tracks. Still, this kicks ass on the metalcore frappe brigade, electing to keep riffs and melody lines simple, direct, and effective. To me, good metal leaves you humming the songs afterwards, not nursing a white noise migraine, and Torn Within know how to write memorable tunes. Dude got me all excited in track three, “King of the Ants,” when he bellows “Reanimated!” and, in the spirit of the almighty Sacrifice, these guys carry the torch for catchy Canadian metal.

Rating : N/A
Review by : Jason Schreurs (Belgium/USA/Denmark)
Torn Within is one of those bands that demonstrates the perfect balance that can be achieved between melody and aggression. Melodic death thrashers bring you some music that is definitely heavy, as evidenced by the grinding, throaty vocals, but is also keenly aware of the melody-oriented side of metal, with instrumental breakdowns that heavily recall the classic era of the metal genre, while maintaining enough groovaliciousness to keep your head banging. It's nice to find a band floating around the underground that can match up to some of the (not-so-underground?) metal acts. Torn Within once again proves that Galy Records may not have the name recognition of Century Media or Metal Blade but certainly has the same sense for quality in its releases.

Rating : N/A
Review by : Upchuck Undergrind

The Darkest Hours (Quebec, Canada)
Melodic Death/Thrash at its best! This band feature Rob & Yan from Neuraxis but don't expect a clone. This has nothing to do with Neuraxis. Maybe less brutality but as intense as what you heard from those guys in the past. Blending some elements from At the Gates, Kreator, Death and even In Flames (early stuff), Torn Within didn't re-invent metal but they wrote some good songs with solid structures and the execution is perfect! Their riffs might sound pretty simple but can be a bit complex in some parts. Tempo changes, strong lead guitar (solos) and catchy melodic lines can be heard from the beginning to the end. Also, Yannick St-Amant did a killer job behind the board cause the sound is great. This album got also 4 bonus tracks (sound is ok but less powerfull that the rest of the album). Blending old school melodic death with a more modern sound is a good thing. Strong vocal but not too diversified. Maybe adding a couple of clean parts could have fit great. 'Unclean Dark Mind' is one of my favorite because of he beautiful melodies and the catchy parts. 'Dread and memory' got amazing harmonies, this is another powerfull track! Bottom Line: Maybe it won't sound 'fresh' for everybody because it's easy to see their influences, but the musicianship of this band is very high and their songs rocks! It's that simple! Energic, intense and melodic as hell.

Rating : 88%
Review by : Patrick