Maze of Torment - _Hidden Cruelty_
(Black Lodge Records, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (8 out of 10)
Despite a boatload of goodwill from the metal media, Sweden's Maze of Torment have never had it easy. From underhanded record labels affording them virtually no promotion, through to their most recent line-up change (which included the loss of their main songwriter in Pete Flesh), the band have trudged through the proverbial swamp far more than their ample plaudits would suggest they deserved to. It's heartening therefore to find them still giving it their all and then some on their sixth opus.

A change in membership has resulted in a pronounced departure from the sometimes typical Swedish death/thrash of _Hammers of Mayhem_. Equally, some may respond to the distinctly more modern visuals of the album sleeve and its accompanying Beelzebub-free lyrics with a certain degree of cynicism. But it's obvious as soon as "Breach the Wall" introduces Maze of Torment circa 2007, that the band mean business. Across the record's ten tracks, they barely manage to veil their fondness for the likes of _Haunting the Chapel_, _Souls of Black_ and _Darkness Descends_.

Yet, while Maze of Torment swagger with all the brio of the old school, _Hidden Cruelty_ is anything but a pedestrian trip down memory lane. Everything from the production through to Erik Sahlstrom's formidable vocal performance screams of a modern metal band ready to make the impact they've been on the cusp of doing for nearly a decade. Let's just hope that the rest of the world is ready for them this time round.


(article published 1/5/2007)

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