Review Summary: Torture killer play it safe on their 3rd full length album, and produce a stagnant, boring album.
Torture Killer was formed in 2002, initially as a Six Feet Under cover band (yes those are real, apparently), however quickly started writing original material, and released their first full length in 2004. Torture Killer remained a relatively underground band, until 2006's Swarm! was released. In a weird reverse Tim "Ripper" Owens move, Chris Barnes (Six Feet Under front man) was picked up as their vocalist. While many criticized the vocals, most would agree that Torture Killer's blend of simplistic death metal with groove elements made for quite an enjoyable release. Fast forward three years, and Torture Killer has released their 3rd full length album, Sewers. This time without famed Chris Barnes. How does the band do without Chris, who was arguably what had been holding the band back? Let's find out.
Upon first listens of Sewers, it is painfully clear that Torture Killer is playing it safe. Album opener "Crypts" starts the album off miserably, and the track that follows, "I Bathe In Their Blood", does little to pick the album up. What exactly changed you may be wondering? It's simple, really, the groove elements that had previously made the simplistic DM songs of Swarm! headbang-worthy are now almost completely absent. What is left is death metal that pushes no boundaries. It's neither fast, nor technical, or creative for that matter. "The Art Of Impalement", and "By Their Corpse" (3rd, and 4th track respectively) attempt to pick the album up, but is quickly hit by another bland brick wall ("Coffins").
The latter half of the album attempt to follow the death groove formula, but in the end produce forgettable songs with the exception of title track "Sewers". Though songs "Rats Can Sense The Murder", and "Scourging At The Pillar" are listenable. It's ultimately these few passable songs that salvage Sewers from an even lower rating. Sewers is no doubt a disappointing release, leaving fans wondering what went wrong?
Compared to previous releases, every element with the exception of the vocals, and production appear to have taken steps back. I'm not going to go into each individual instrument involved. Mainly because I know only so many synonyms for the word "bland". Instead I'm going to touch a bit on the vocals.
Newcomer Juri Sallinen is unsurprisingly better than Chris Barnes. This is in part due to the better production which had previously bolstered Barnes' vocals over the instrumentals. The vast majority is done in typical low pitch screams, with the occasion guttural low, or a slightly higher pitch growl. It's rather run of the mill, but is enjoyable in the end.
Sewers is a bitter disappointment. While it isn't terrible (in fact some sections are quite listenable), it's just not worth your time with all of the superb releases this year alone. 2009 was indeed a good year for death metal, and it's recommended that you skip this album.