November 11 saw the release of Tourniquet’s Onward to Freedom, a 12 track “anthem for the voiceless.” This hard-hitting album is a plea for compassion; a call to rise and stand up to animal cruelty and injustice.
Songwriter and drummer Ted Kirkpatrick enlisted the help of a solid line-up of guest artists to contribute to this project. The likes of which include Rex Carroll, Kevin Young, Dug Pinnick, and Marty Friedman. I cover a bit more of the guest collaborators, Tourniquet’s animal welfare involvement, and a quick review of the title track here.
Onward to Freedom is sure to be a musical treat to not only Tourniquet fans, but listeners of all metal styles. Some tracks lean toward hard rock, some are more 80’s flavoured, but always the signature Tourniquet sound is there. Kirkpatrick’s stellar songwriting brings each song to life with blazing solos, his drum expertise, and lyrics that expose the pain of animal suffering.
The album opens with the dramatic instrumental “Onward to Freedom Prelude” and then rips into the title track – an unforgettable song featuring Michael Sweet on vocals and guitar, and vocals by Mattie Montgomery.
“Slave Ring” begins with chilling sounds of dog fights, and has a bit of an industrial vibe to it. The heavy vocals fit the brutal content.
Ed Asner delivers a moving speech on “The Noble Case for Mercy.” He says, “it is the noble side of us that rises up to fight for those who cannot.”
“Let the Wild Just Be Wild” is one of my favourites on the album. There is some killer guitar work, and the phenomenally talented Gabbie Rae knocks this one out of the park.
“No Soul” has some familiar Tourniquet style riffing, and I really like Pinnick’s vocal performance. This song challenges the human attitude that all other creatures are far beneath us and asks, “And do they not love and guard their young just as we do/ And do they not fear violence, like human beings do”
“If I Had To Do The Killing” is a powerful, driving song, and I love hearing Aaron Guerra on guitar, and Kevin Young on vocals are bang on.
“Stereotaxic Atrocities” tackles the senselessness of animal testing and the resulting human profit. This track was originally on Tourniquet’s 1991 album Psycho Surgery. This version puts Luke Easter on vocals, and Friedman (who has appeared on past Tourniquet tracks) handling guitar. I love the guest lineup on OTF, but it’s so good to hear Easter’s vocals. If there was any one thing I could change about this album, it would be to feature a dash more of Luke Easter.
You can really feel Kirkpatrick’s classical influences coming through on “Drowning in Air” and I love Suddath’s aggressive vocals. This intense song about humanity’s destruction of oceans hits like a freight train. Another highlight of the album.
The closing track is rather interesting in that it’s not at all a metal song. In fact, it delves more into country rock territory. With Gabbie Rae on the mic once more, “Cage 23” covers the plight of animals in shelters and the devastating number of that are euthanized every year.
Start to finish, Onward to Freedom is an excellent record. Compelling performances by a host of musicians bringing an important message will certainly stir listeners and inspire action. There is enough diversity among the songs that even upon repeated listens, OTF does not grow old.
Tourniquet’s captivating Onward to Freedom is musically powerful, lyrically moving. A must-have for heavy music fans, and lovers of Creation.
Standout Tracks – “Onward to Freedom,” “Slave Ring,” “Let the Wild Just Be Wild,” “Drowning in Air”