Berlin, Germany plays host to the death metal/deathcore four-piece known as Torture Pit. The band formed back in 2007, releasing their self-titled debut album two years later on their own. Since then, the group had gone through a few line-up changes including two vocalists, a bassist, as well as a guitarist, leaving Austin and Lars "Beule" Friedrichs (bass and vocals respectively) the only two founding members left within the ranks. Position changes aside, the band finally return after about six long years of silence, presenting a brand new studio EP titled The Assassins Sessions, a four song effort that clocks in at just over sixteen minutes of new death metal (and death metal influenced) material. But is this long overdue return to the studio one that has been worth the wait, or is this new recording a major let down?

Well, the main issue to be had with this release stems from the audio quality. While The Assassins Sessions sounds crisp, it also doesn't have the same bite that it should for a death metal album. Everything sounds fairly sterilized, which is a shame given the obvious bass presence the band is trying to incorporate into it. The guitars sound a bit too thin and clean at times, even at their most aggressive, the bass guitar is largely absent other than a few segments here and there that bring in a rattling or give it a chance to shine, such as some of the slower melodic segments, and the drums just sound too far in the back to really be as effective as they should be outside the kicks, which stand as the loudest part of the kit. Even the vocals sound diluted a bit despite the range that one would expect to appear on a goregrind effort.

The Assassins Sessions stands as a mixture of various death metal styles. "Creep" introduces a slow-moving composition that borders on the edge of doom metal influence with a horror-themed presentation akin to Deceased thanks to the melodic tendencies of the guitar work. It really comes off more like an extended introduction for the first two minutes. Not long after that, we're greeted with some melodic death metal influenced riffs that push a cold, depressing atmosphere for a short while before finally fading away. "Fire" shares a similar depressing melodic touch as that closing, though mostly in short bursts after the half-way point, which finds the song a bit lost between that and fairly boring deathcore breakdowns. For the most part, this one is a faster performance with a heavy focus on the drums and random grooves from the guitars to keep it alive, and the varied vocal layers don't hurt any either.

"Warbeards" carries that melodic tendency forward in a way that feels like a mixture of modern God Forbid and Bloodbath influence. It is a catchy track that isn't afraid to throw some commanding segments at the listener, brief as they may be. However, it's the rich chorus that sticks out the most, breathing more life into the performance than what exists much of the time, especially when the pace creeps to a fairly dull break as you approach the three-minute mark, then what seems like a slam another thirty seconds later.

But what really sticks out is "Meine Armee", which features a rapper named Chefkoch, something that is becoming a trend in the world of death metal in Germany it seems. This isn't the first promo lately to cross my path with a rap track or segment thrown in, and it's not the first to have someone who sounds bored or just uninspired behind the mic. Unlike "One Bullet Left" by Six Feet Under with Ice-T, Chefkoch sounds as though he's literally just reading the lyrics in the studio the day of recording, coming across half-assed and bland against the otherwise catchy rhythms and background rasps and growls that pack more enthusiasm in the seconds they exist in a certain bridge than the lead rap vocals do the entire nearly four minutes of the song's length.

The Assassins Sessions isn't all that bad, but it does ultimately feel weak. Musically, it's very diverse and handled pretty well all around despite sometimes falling victim to general tropes of the deathcore style. The real downfall here is the overly crisp production and mastering, leaving much of the recording to sound moderately sterilized despite the obvious deeper, bass driven presence that should add more bite than what is presented here. On top of that, you have the boring rap skills of Chefkoch taking away some of the solid grooves of that track, not to mention the over-extended introductory style of "Creep" and how quickly it fades just as it starts to pick up. Thankfully, there's still enough strong material present that throwing The Assassins Sessions on for a casual spin or two won't seem like a torturous task to undertake, not to mention wonder what it would sound like if it carried more of a bludgeoning presence than a clean sounding digital one.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.