Torture Killer - _Swarm!_
(Metal Blade Records, 2006)
by: Jackie Smit (
You can't help but be a little surprised at Chris Barnes' decision to act as the proverbial pinch hitter and step into the vocal booth for this Finnish troupe. Sure, Six Feet Under's last two records didn't exactly set the world ablaze, but of all the gore metal bands doing the rounds, you'd have thought that he'd choose a less non-descript act at the very least. Still, Torture Killer -- as much as they shamelessly lifted whole riffs from a number of bands on their last album and palmed it off as their own -- were always something of a guilty pleasure; the sort of band, you know you're supposed to dislike for a number of fundamental reasons, but can't because they're just too damn entertaining.What's very clear from the onset with _Swarm!_ though is that musically the bar has been picked up and vaulted into an entirely new stratosphere. Whether or not this has anything to do with Barnes' presence is beside the point, because from the moment the album chugs to life, Torture Killer are a more mature, decidedly less derivative and infinitely more engaging prospect. There's no mistaking their genre of choice -- this is still chugging, mid-tempo death metal from start to finish, replete with the obligatory bile-soaked lyrics. Only now, the band actually seem as though they want to be taken seriously. They even toss in the odd leftfield nugget along the way, like the soaring lead on "Forever Dead" or the haunting melody that rounds out "Multiple Counts of Murder". While these grow to increasingly short supply towards the latter stages of the album, overall this is easily one of the most simplistic and mindlessly exhilarating records you're going to hear in 2006. As for Barnes -- let's just say that this is the best thing his name has been attached to since _Maximum Violence_.
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