Review Summary: Why make jokes about Chris Barnes when Chris Barnes makes them for you?
In certain contexts I'm sure Chris Barnes' vocals could really hit the mark (namely; in slower, really raw, dirty death metal. Think: Suffocation’s “Human Waste” demo.), but anywhere else his dated guttural, “gargling pebbles” vocal style seems out-of-place--if not laughable--by his technique's perceived ultra-seriousness and inability to keep up with anything above a mid-paced tempo. On a super clean “modern” death metal album like “Torment”, though, the vocals seem nothing less than strained and out-of-place against the rest of the instrumentation.
To put this album into perspective: Chris Barnes is a guy trying to do dirty Cookie Monster-style guttural vocals overtop modern-sounding clean metal riffing that wouldn’t sound all that out-of-place on a mainstream metalcore album--all while still trying to appear ultra br00tal. Speaking frankly: this does not work. The guitar sound, drum sound, and vocal sound feel like a clashing of eras; as if death metal vocals from some obscure 1994 demo were to be forcibly sling-shotted through time and dumped on top of any modern metal record with nary a competent producer nor sound engineer to be found anywhere along the way to make them actually fit together.
If this was Suffocation's "Human Waste" demo, I think Barnes' vocals would've seemed like more of an asset than a liability, but unfortunately for us it's 2017 and even Suffocation don't play dirty death metal anymore. The clashing of ultra clean instruments (and programmed-sounding drums) with dirty, sluggish guttural vocals definitely holds the record back (unsurprisingly). It's like instrumentally the band are trying to compete with modern acts like Cannibal Corpse by adopting an ultra-clean guitar sound, whilst simultaneously keeping the vocals exceptionally raw to keep the band's "personality" and “legacy” intact.
Whatever they were trying to do here, though, it simply doesn't work; while the riffs are often actually fairly decent (think: a few steps down from modern Decapitated), the awkward vocals hold the record back from being anything resembling an "enjoyable" one. It should be fairly well understood that Six Feet Under is more-or-less just a vehicle for vocalist Chris Barnes at this point, but that's still not much of an excuse for sucking so badly as Torment
does. The album is baffling in how badly it is organized and produced, with its placing elements of the band against each other rather than allowing them to work together to create a more cohesive style.
is a mess of a record--simply put--despite being fairly riff-solid(ish). I suppose there's a band named "Six Feet Under" buried deep in here somewhere that's worth actually talking about, but this album definitely isn't it. Maybe Barnes and co. should go re-listen to "Human Waste" a few dozen more times before recording their next dumpsterfire of a release, yeah?