Mix Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Metallica you get a tourniquet.
Tourniquet, actually. Not a tourniquet.
A band with a rad name that I had never heard of until recently. Tourniquet. Isn’t that a great name for a band? Especially one that dishes out thrash metal / heavy metal / death metal to the likes of the aforementioned bands. Tourniquet indeed counts Iron Maiden as an influence and you can hear it. Especially with lead singer Guy Ritter’s vocal register. Holy moly does he pitch high.
Though not always crystal glass shattering high, the vocals do take some getting used to. Compared to Dave Mustaine, Ritter makes the Megadeth frontman sound more like Michael McDonald. Perhaps a small exaggeration, but that should give you some idea of Ritter’s vocal range on Tourniquet’s debut album Stop the Bleeding released in 1990.
By the way, I’m again disappointed in myself. Seriously I had never heard of Tourniquet until, as I said, recently. You know these guys have been around for 30 years, have 10 studio albums with sales exceeding 300,000. Where have I been? Some type of music cave I suppose. The frustration only mounts if you read to the end.
Tourniquet, then, comprised of founders Ritter, drummer Ted Kirkpatrick and guitarist Gary Lenaire who also helped out on the mic along with session musicians Mark Lewis on lead guitar and Erik Jan James on bass. The founders’ lineup would last three years as Ritter would leave after the band’s third album. Lenaire lasted one more album thereafter departing in 1996 while Kirkpatrick doled out beats for three decades enduring through multiple line-up changes over the years.
“The Test for Leprosy” (ha ha you already know where this album heads musically with this song title) opens the 10-song 46 minute long Stop the Bleeding and while not the strongest track, be sure to zero in on Kirkpatrick’s drums and Lenaire and Lewis on guitar. The three rip together and never let up throughout the course of the album.
“Ready Or Not” would have been a great opening track just for the title alone (because… here they come!) and this one sounds even faster somehow. Insane Ritter vocals. “Ark of Suffering” lowers the vocal octave a lot in this “slower” track, at least compared to the previous in this well-crafted song with time signature changes and a shredding guitar solo which only continues with the 6-minute plus “Tears of Korah” revealing a young band with veteran musicianship and probably the high-water mark for the album. But the water line doesn’t fall to low from here on out.
It took a few listens to place it, but “The Threshing Floor” sounds like a cut from Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy an album released nearly 20 years later and “You Get What You Pray For” has the muscle to appear on any of the last couple Megadeth albums. “Swarming Spirits” reveals an inner Anthrax for the band fluctuating in speed and harmony in this seemingly tongue-and-cheek track even with all the mental imagery. Ritter steps aside on “Whitewashed Tomb” allowing the rest to lay it all out on this early Metallica-like instrumental. But returns gloriously on “Somnambulism” (I looked this up. It actually means sleepwalking) rotating between a snarl and a howl before his bandmates take over to finish out the final minute.
Stop the Bleeding closes with the near eight minute long “Harlot Widow and the Virgin Bride” that crushes various time signatures (like most of the others) led by heavy guitar, banging riffs and wicked drum work.
Vocally ambidextrous, you might not like Ritters’ singing, indeed a hallmark of the genre fans certainly appreciate while others may question, how can you listen to this?, but his vast octave swings work much like an extra instrument rather than a secondary vocalist. In between his falsettos, he toggles to and fro sounding sometimes like Mustaine, Axl Rose and Layne Staley. That aside, the guitar work and drums – double bass abounds – hold sovereignty over the album dishing out everything one expects from this style of music.
Tourniquet emerged near the end of 80s glam rock, in the middle of thrash metal and at the start of grunge, another genre you can subtly hear in Tourniquet’s music. Yet, likening the technically proficient and demanding sounds of Tourniquet to other chart-topping bands feels cheap. A disservice to their skill and delivery. One of the pros and cons of flying under the musical radar, apparently.
I can easily recall listening to an album that got better with each listen as Stop the Bleeding does, however, I cannot recall a record where the band members seemingly advance in their artistry from the opening song to the final track. Stop the Bleeding starts off well-enough and reaches its pinnacle about halfway through and remains on a tight rope thereafter.
Kirkpatrick, who cited Neil Peart of Rush as an influence, was the primary songwriter and anchor of Tourniquet. He was voted favorite drummer 10 years straight by readers of HM Magazine and featured twice in Modern Drummer Magazine. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 62 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis on August 19, 2022. Shortly later, longtime guitarist Aaron Guerra announced Tourniquet would not continue.
Debut Album Grade: B+
Overall Grade: B
Tourniquet – Stop the Bleeding Songs:
- The Test for Leprosy
- Ready Or Not
- Ark of Suffering
- Tears of Korah
- The Threshing Floor
- You Get What You Pray For
- Swarming Spirits
- Whitewashed Tomb
- Harlot Widow and the Virgin Bride
4 thoughts on “Debut Album Review: Tourniquet – Stop the Bleeding”
Wow. Never heard of these guys either. So that makes two of us. Will pull em up on Apple. Sad about the drummer though. Pretty young still…
thanks for reading. the jams are stellar. I need to check out later albums to see how they evolved. the older we get the younger they die it seems. pretty sad when I read about his death.
I’ve never heard of Tourniquet either, but then, I’ve never been a fan of thrash/death metal. I listened to a few songs, and while I concede they were pretty good musicians, their music just doesn’t appeal to me. A very well-written review though!
the music is definitely not a genre for everyone. lol. awesome you gave it a try!
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