The latest offering from Chris Barnes’ (ex-Cannibal Corpse singer) band, is impossible not to compare to Cannibal Corpse. But that’s no bad thing. Over his near 30 year career, Barnes’ voice has stayed consistent, from 1990’s ‘Eaten Back to Life’, through the first Six Feet Under album (‘Haunted’) to this new album entitled Torment. They don’t need to rely on blast beats, eternal shredding and a quick as possible vocal delivery to achieve earth-shattering heaviness in every track.
From track 1 ‘Sacrificial Kill’, we don’t get an explosive flurry of drum fills, shreds and a wailing scream. Instead, we have a slow tempo, an offbeat guitar, and a relaxed ride cymbal. Yet when Barnes starts using what is possibly the most recognisable voice in death metal, it’s still just as heavy as bands like Job For A Cowboy or Anaal Nathrak, but the beauty of the band is they can do both. About halfway through the track, we get a riff that leads into a section of furious sensory assault, which seamlessly transitions back into riffs that could come straight from ‘Evisceration Plague’ era Corpse (An era Barnes wasn’t a part of, does he wish he was?)
Track 3 is an acoustic ballad titled ‘My only love’.
It’s not. It’s called ‘The Separation of Flesh from Bone’. It doesn’t quite have the brutality of old Corpse lyrics, but it’s nice to see Barnes hasn’t lost his flair for romantic poetry. It’s rare that there is a distinctive chorus in death metal, but the repeated chant of the song’s title is actually sort of… catchy. Not in a Children of Bodom way, but there’s something about it. Like track 1, we start quite relaxed, before halfway through and the blast beats come in. About 2:50 in we hear some incredibly quick ride cymbal work, and it seems the addition of new drummer Marco Pitruzzella was very welcome, especially as he provides explosive fills throughout.
‘Skeleton’ starts with a military march style snare pattern, which quickly introduces bass (gives it a bit of a Rush sound in my opinion), before we hear hints of Obituary, Death, and Slayer seep through in the rest of the track. We even get a bit of a groove towards the end of Track 6 ‘Knife Through a Skull’, as a syncopated riff takes centre stage.
We get a bit of filler that you expect from every album from track 7-10, but even then you know that it would drive even the most timid of fans into a circle pit at a gig. The guitar tone on the album is so fitting, I don’t know exactly how it’s achieved but the combination of the extreme distortion and down tuned strings is so satisfying- just listen to the opening riff on ‘Funeral Mask’.
Track 11 ends the album as explosively as it started, the perfect way to wrap everything up. It showcases how skilled and tight the band are, even going as far as the drums apparently all being recorded in one take. The only thing it lacks is a face melting-guitar solo, which could show off the skill of Jeff Hugel (who played all of the guitars and bass on the album) before the sudden and very humble ending. No long ringing feedback and no experimental sound, just music for music sake.
My favourite thing about the album, is how Six Feet Under manage to somewhat modernise their sound, without resorting to violent blast beats and high pitched squeals, while keeping in the old school style that the fans love. I did some digging, and apparently Barnes formed the band with the intention of not just resorting to blast beats, and impressively, he kept his word. Of course there are periods of monotony, but it’s to be expected (it isn’t Prog after all) and it never gets to a point where it’s boring. If this is what they can come up with after 20 years, then I’m excited to see what’s next.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Six Feet Under Information
- Sacrificial Kill
- Exploratory Homicide
- The Separation of Flesh From Bone
- Knife Through the Skull
- Slaughtered as They Slept
- In the Process of Decomposing
- Funeral Mask
- Bloody Underwear
- Roots of Evil
Release Date: 24th February, 2017
Label: Metal Blade Records
For Fans Of: Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Decide
Torment is available to purchase from many places including Metal Blade directly.