You may have heard of them already, you may have seen them destroying a venue near you on any of the countless shows and tours they have racked up already, you may know the name by its association with other 'name' bands, if not then I reckon it won't be long before the name Tortuga is more than familiar to anyone with a love for sonic chaos and riffs. Nasty, evil riffs.
Compromising members of the sadly missed (by me anyway) November Coming Fire, Tortuga churn out a intricate yet dense wall of noise that is equal parts discordance, brooding melody and the almighty riff. 'The Lachrymose' drops in on sparse guitar notes droning out and hoarse yelling, this sets up 'Dance Like...' to pile into you with it's out of control, rolling riff and screamed vocals. Not a million miles away from the dynamic sonic torment of Breather Resist, Harkonen, Coalesce et al. Thick, noisy riffing and falling-down-the-stairs drumming back up hoarse, screamed vocals. 'Bury Me....' unveils the first huge, stomping riff that drops midway through the track and contrasts perfectly with the chaos before it. One of the stand out tracks is the discordant melody of 'The Landanum Boys Club', bookended by the droning, feedback built spoken word tracks 'Somethingness' and 'Nothingness' Then it's back to battering your ears.
Tortuga have crafted a fine set of debut songs here, drawing on some nice influences and possessing an almighty sound, of which the only bad point is the production at times. Nothing intrinsically bad, it's just flat at times when it should destroy. Apart from that minor niggle, Tortuga are onto a winner here. Next time they will clean up.
The Dreaded Press
I'm not sure if it was Tortuga's intent, but the cover of Kings Of Albany is like having your eyes raped by an art college student who has just discovered LSD and conspiracy theories.
Tortuga play doom metal, you see. And not the currently trendy hard rock stuff either; Kings of Albany is scrapingly heavy, mixed for brutality over melody and powered by surprisingly progressive percussion there's a definite chunk of post-hardcore in their heritage, too. The guitars chug and grind away at downtuned riffs, and Gareth Evans shrieks and wails like some extra from a Polanski battlefield scene. What the cover does for your eyes, the music does for your ears in a million shades of graphite.
Bright-pink happy, Tortuga are not. But then you knew that already, didn't you, having checked the tracklisting and found titles like 'The Lachrymose', 'Bury Me In You (Fatal)' and 'Hell's Red Roads', placing Kings of Albany quite safely in the traditionally bleak and morbid territories of doom metal and the more nihilistic end of UK hardcore. Songs about meeting girls at the rock show are not on the agenda. The hardcore brutalist aesthetic is somewhat ameliorated, though. Tortuga show an almost progressive approach, and not just at the level of individual songs. 'Somethingness' is a dark eulogy that gives way to the bare-knuckle bludgeon, twisted guitars and howling choruses of 'The Laudanum Boys Club', which in turn ends in a film sample (for which I can't find a credit) before returning full-circle to the funereal dirge of 'Nothingness'. But if you thought Kings of Albany was going to lull you into sleep (or, more likely, some sort of coma or anaphylactic shock) they pick things up again with the frantic intro of 'Winter's Widow.
The whole album shifts paces and textures carefully, never once leaving you stuck in a traffic jam of seven similar songs, and even managing to surprise with the maudlin piano ballad of 'Something Blue'. And being an In At The Deep End release, it's cheap as chips, and you know the bulk of the dosh will actually go to the band themselves. Result. Tortuga make no concessions to fashion or listenability; for them, it's all about exorcising their existential malaise, pouring it out into a relentless torrent of muddy psychological run-off. It's not pretty, and you'll end up filthy, but there's an impressive natural power waiting for those brave enough to step close. Just be careful the undertow doesn't drown you.
Rock Midget 4/5
When November Coming Fire called it a day back in 2007 after the release of their glorious Dungeness long-player the year prior, it felt like a huge loss to the UKHC scene. Purveyors of highly intelligent, doom-infested hardcore, NCF were a living, breathing antidote to the dumbed down, increasingly commercial sound that was emanating from elsewhere around the country. Rising shortly afterwards from the ashes of NCF came Tortuga, and after a series of blistering lives shows with the likes of Gallows and Doomriders, the Norfolk-based five-piece are ready to drop Kings Of Albany, their long-awaited debut album.
Straight from the off, by way of the gloomy sludge of 'The Lachrymose', it's clear that anybody who loved NCF's aforementioned 2006 swansong isn't going to be disappointed one iota here. Immediately afterwards the wonderfully violent Botch-esque 'Dance Like No One's Watching' and 'Bury Me In You (Fatal)' arrive to take up intensity levels tenfold. The awesome 'The Laudanum Boys Club' is another chaotic roller coaster crammed full of unbridled highs and lows, while with hulking closer 'This Lonely Sailor', the band save one of their very finest moments until last.
As wonderfully bleak and as desolate an album as you're likely to hear all year, Kings Of Albany as a masterfully claustrophobic album that you need to totally immerse yourself in, as monstrous tracks unfurl into epic proportions, take 'The Tomb Of John Wortley', a ferocious offering that sounds so colossal it could level cities single handedly. November Coming Fire may have dissolved before gaining the widespread recognition their brilliance deserved, but here's betting Tortuga don't suffering the same fate, as Kings Of Albany is the kind of album that proves this band can go anywhere and achieve anything they want.
Metal Hammer 8/10
From the ashes of Brit post-hardcore noise mongers November Coming Fire have arisen Tortuga. While musically similar Tortuga take the adrenaline-fuelled intensity to the next level and, on record at least, NCF fans shouldn't notice the join. A seething and at times unhinged fusion of Botch, Black Sabbath and My War-era Black Flag, Kings Of Albany is a simultaneously frantic, doomy and rhythmically complex venting of rage. From the impotent nihilism of youth to the jaded resentment of age, Tortuga run the garnut of anger grimly focused and knocking teeth out as they go.