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Six Feet Under - "Torment" (CD)

Six Feet Under - "Torment" CD cover image

"Torment" track listing:

1. Sacrificial Kill
2. Exploratory Homicide
3. The Separation of Flesh from Bone
4. Schizomaniac
5. Skeleton
6. Knife Through the Skull
7. Slaughtered as They Slept
8. In the Process of Decomposing
9. Funeral Mask
10. Obsidian
11. Bloody Underwear
12. Roots of Evil

Reviewed by on March 17, 2017

"... fuck this band, fuck the last painful 40 minutes of my life I'm never getting back, and fuck everyone who keeps buying the music and keeping these guys going 25 years beyond their sell-by date."

If you go back through my reviews over the last nearly nine years of reviewing here, you'll see me talk a lot about the glory of finding unexpected gems in the underground, where some unknown band no one has ever heard of shows up to totally blow away the competition. That's easily one of the best parts of metal: discovering something you hadn't heard before that takes an existing genre to new heights or even spawns off a new sub-genre. On the opposite end of that are those classic bands who originally brought about a style or are championing the old ways in a modern setting.

Six Feet Under is unquestionably one of those bands rooted in death metal's past, occasionally bringing in other influences to varying degrees of success (full AC/DC cover album “Graveyard Classics 2” for instance clearly didn't go over well with fans). Despite having been around since the early '90s, I personally haven't spent too much time listening to Six Feet Under in the past beyond a few tracks here and there, tending to stick more avant-garde, symphonic, or technical death metal bands.

With the new album out and seeing all the press, I decided to dive into “Torment” and see what I'd been missing out on all these years. A few moments into opening song “Sacrifical Kill” I'm immediately scratching my head wondering what all the fuss has been about, with an absurdly basic sound that's less death metal and more proto-death metal. The atmosphere is incredibly empty, featuring overly simplistic riffs and uninspired drum beats closely matching the vocal pattern. Halfway through at least the tempo goes up a notch, but on the whole this feels like a song that deserved to hit the cutting room floor.

In the next few songs some technicality is thrown in on the bass front, but even that is sort of half-assed. Second song “Exploratory Homicide” has the exact same riff pattern and speed as the ending of the first one, although it keeps the speed up a notch so it's more listenable. That pattern keeps up with the rest of the album and hits its peak with “Funeral Mask.” Other than a mildly interesting riff change at 1:50, “Funeral Mask” is the epitome of run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers death metal that brings nothing new to the table.

Up till now I've been solely describing the instrumental side, and haven't gotten to the worst part of the album that just utterly ruins any of these tracks: the utterly non-descript vocals. They might as well not be there. This music would be better entirely instrumental, or Six Feet Under could get a better sound by synthesizing vocals with a computer program. Hell, getting some screeching pugs to take over the front man position would be a step up.

The death growls swing from baffling non-entity in most tracks to unintentionally hilarious on songs like “The Separation of Flesh and Bone,” were it sounds like somebody forgot to mix them in properly. When the unnecessary slow down in that song hits I look down to see I'm only 1:30 in and am actively dreading the 3 minutes left to go. A mere three tracks into the album and it dawns on me: I absolutely hate nearly everything about this.

“Nearly?” Yeah, there's some minor redeeming qualities here and there. The second half of “Skeleton” is actually a legitimately good thrashy death metal tune (if you ignore the vocal work). The fat bass lines and heavy chunk of “Knife Through The Skull” are entertaining, and there's a great tempo change around the 2:10 mark... but then those godawful vocals show up to ruin life. The song title is giving me ideas about what I could do to myself to end this noise coming out of my headphones.

There's always a certain leeway given to metal bands on the song titles and lyrics, and anyone who digs into death metal needs to have a willingness to accept outlandish concepts. From the amusing perversity of Belphegor to the overly serious nature of black metal bands that refer to their live shows as “rituals,” it just comes with the territory. That's always been the case for me in the past, but when I land at a song on this album titled “Bloody Underwear,” it's just time to throw my hands in the air and give up.

I'm honestly struggling to think of an album I've enjoyed less than “Torment” in my entire history as a metal fan. To put it simply: fuck this band, fuck the last painful 40 minutes of my life I'm never getting back, and fuck everyone who keeps buying the music and keeping these guys going 25 years beyond their sell-by date.

While I found the album to be laughably bad (worse than that even, an affront to death metal in general), its worth noting not all the Metalunderground.com contributors agree, so be sure to check out another writer's interview with Chris Barnes about the album over here for a different take.

Highs: There's a couple of decent riffs here and there I guess?

Lows: The worst vocals in death metal and an unrelenting commitment to basic, simplistic mediocrity on the song writing front.

Bottom line: I would give money to go back in time and not listen to this drek.

Rated 1 out of 5 skulls
1 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)