Review Summary: Finally ,a good post-Cannibal Corpse Chris Barnes record
The history of Chris Barnes is the stuff of death metal legend. From his high points with Cannibal Corpse throughout the early 1990's to the out of breath nonsense vocals he expels during Six Feet Under recording sessions. However, there is one album by a much more obscure band, who took their name from a song by Six Feet Under. The band is Torture Killer, and their second album was the only one to feature Chris Barnes on vocals.
Torture Killer are a very small Finnish death metal band, formed in 2002 as a cover band of Six Feet Under by Jari Laine, Tuomas karppinen, Kim Torniainen, Tuomo Latvala and Matti Liuke, taking influence from Six Feet Under, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel and Obituary. The band soon released their debut album, For Maggots To Devour, in 2003 with Karmageddon Media, which produced a small amount of controversy, as the original CD printing factory refused to publish it due to how graphic the lyrics were. Eventually, however, the band found a company to press their CD, and so it was released.
Soon after the release of this album, the band switched to Metal Blade Records, and ditched their original vocalist in favour of one of their main inspirations to become musicians in the first place, Chris Barnes, for one album. This album was to be entitled Swarm, and the bands dream come true album was recorded in 2005 and released in early 2006, to very little exposure. This album is a huge step up from their debut, in sound, and is a good listen.
The guitar work is varied, and has some great death metal riffs scattered throughout the album. It has a good feeling of intensity to it, but occasionally comes off sounding repetetive and bland. However, lead guitarist Jarl Laine and rhythm guitarist Tuomas Karppinen both do their jobs fantastically, with a particular highlight being the solo during Multiple Counts Of Murder. The solo is well written and played perfectly, fitting in with the song fantastically.
The drumming is very sub-par, with few blast beats found throughout this album. The best song for the drums would be Sadistic, which has some fast beats, and interesting patterns. Overall, though, the drums are nothing interesting. The same can be said for the bass, which can not be heard throughout much of it, and where it can it fails to stand out. The focus of this album is clearly the guitars and vocals.
The obvious talking point of the album is Chris Barnes, and whether he is better than the excretement found on his later Six Feet Under releases. Well, the truthfull answer is yes, they definately are a lot better than on Six Feet Under. He still uses the weak, out of breath growls throughout, and the silly shrieks he has been known for ever since Cannibal Corpses The Bleeding album, but he occasionally throws in some properly done screams. They are not perfect, but nicely done, especially on the song Sadistic. His vocals are fairly strong throughout this release, given the amount of time he has been in the business, and even his growls are better than those found on Six Feet Under releases, being more powerful, but still a far cry from his Cannibal Corpse days.
Every song found on this album is just flat out death metal, without any punches pulled. It is not the most brutal release out there, nor the most technical, but it is exactly what it sets out to be. Obsessed With Homicide is a killer song, with some of the more interesting riffs found throughout the album, and Sadistic has some well written lyrics. For the most part, however, the songs are all exactly what death metal should be about, with nothing more that can be said about them.
Sadistic is, in my opinion, the standout track from the album, and the bands finest song. This is death metal executed exactly as it should be done, with intense music, dense production, lyrics that speak of gore and nothing else, and harsh vocals. This is where the bands sound is found, and is strong throughout, being a great song to just let your head thrash too. In my opinion, this song deserves a listen by anybody remotely into metal.
This album is a good release, and a solid enough listen. It is nothing particularly special, but there is nothing that really drags it down. Every member of the band is competent enough, with the standouts being Laine and Barnes, the driving forces of this, a straight death metal release, and i am happy to give this a positive 3 out of 5.