Six Feet Under – Torment (Metal Blade)

Thursday, 16th February 2017
Rating: 7/10

Long-standing death metal groovers Six Feet Under never seem to lack for new material. The band’s twelfth offering in over 20 years of existence, Torment, again sees frontman Chris Barnes and friends (ex-Brain Drill and Cannabis Corpse members) wading through familiar waters, but really, with a band this established, what else are they to do?

No one expects the wheel to reinvent itself this far into a career, and more of the same is the established pattern here. Thick, elaborated grooves permeate much of the album, particularly the back-end of the disc with “Bloody Underwear,” “Obsidian,” and “Roots of Evil” providing a trilogy of mid-tempo lurching. However, the band does pick up the pace at the album’s opening, with some faster tempo cuts like “Schizomaniac” and “Exploratory Homicide” offering a solid change of pace. The faster songs, “Exploratory Homicide” in particular, come off as some of the strongest stuff the band has done in some time. There’s some energy that has been lacking in some of the band’s previous releases that the tempo change helps to provide. However, some of the groovier moments, such as “Knife Through the Skull” and “Funeral Mask” help to continue the band’s legacy of catchy hooks, which will embed after a few listens. Barnes vocals, love them or loathe them, are still rather upfront in the mix, but a crisp production ensures that everything is effectively audible and with just enough grit behind it.

A few surprising upticks in tempo give Torment some energy above the usual grooves that have filled previous releases. It’s not going to change the viewpoint of anyone in the scene, but nor is it trying to. It’s a pure Six Feet Under album from start to finish – straight ahead with no compromise. And for that it should satisfy the appetite for new material for any long time fan.

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