I have a pretty cool history with Six Feet Under and this website. Back in 2012, I had the opportunity to review their latest album at the time, Undead. In just another year, I again reviewed their newest album, Unborn. This would happen again with not only Crypt of the Devil but Graveyard Classics IV as well. And here I am again, writing yet another review for yet another new Six Feet Under album. All of this isn’t to brag (it would be weaksauce bragging at that), but to say that when it comes to Six Feet Under’s recent history, I’m pretty well-versed. Torment should prove to be an interesting listen indeed, as this has yet another team of musicians recording alongside household name Chris Barnes. We can now hear if this is yet another winning combination for Six Feet Under, or perhaps the makings of a forgettable album.
Torment is the first Six Feet Under album with some of Barnes’ touring musicians laying down the riffs and beats. Jeff Hughell (guitars) and Marco Pitruzzella (drums) have been in Six Feet Under for quite a bit (both of which used to both be in Brain Drill together by the way). They did not however record with Barnes’ on Crypt of the Devil, with Barnes instead collaborating with Cannabis Corpse members. But I want to make something very clear. If you take nothing else from this article, take this: Hughell and Pitruzzella do an absolute killer job on Torment.
Hughell gets a chance to really go wild on double-picking and chugging riffs, as well as get a tricky sticky bass lick in there. And Pitruzzella, according to his Facebook page and this article from Blabbermouth, Pitruzzella recorded all the drums in one take and with no triggered drum sample replacement. I don’t remember the last time that I have heard such a thing from a death metal album, and I’ve even caught YouTube comments debating whether or not this is true. Nevertheless, this musicianship on this album is some of the best that Six Feet Under has ever seen. I think this is none more apparent than on the song “Exploratory Homicide”, which has luckily been released weeks ago.
Putting aside the merits of the musicians on the album, we must simply ask if Torment is a good album or not. Well, yes and no. This is unfortunately going to be one of those reviews where I weigh the pros and cons of the album and then ultimately leave the choice to you, the listener, to whether or not you like it. If you think that’s a cop-out then that’s your opinion, but that truly what this album boils down to.
There are some definitely gems on Torment that should not be hastily thrown away. Tracks like the aforementioned “Exploratory Homicide”, and “Schizomaniac” definitely are on the heavier side of Six Feet Under’s spectrum. One of their most defining characteristics has never been a reliance on speed, as a matter of fact it is usually quite the opposite. That isn’t to say that they’ve never ventured into blast-beating country before, and on Torment it’s achieved about as well as any other Six Feet Under album. Barnes’ vocals are still as guttural as ever, and whether you love or hate them, it really wouldn’t sound like a Six Feet Under album without them.
Now, for some of the cons. Apart from some of the gems that I mentioned before, this album can drag on a little bit. Again, I know that Six Feet Under has a big foundation of slower, groove based death metal under them, but in this case, none of the slower songs are really that memorable. The main riffs aren’t bad by any means, but really just start sounding the same after not too long. “The Separation of Flesh from Bone” is an example of a song that overstays it’s welcome just a little too much.
"The Separation of Flesh from Bone"
The production value is also a little thinner than their past few albums. The main guitars aren’t as layered as was in previous works, and it can sound a little dynamically. If a return to a more bare bones and raw sound is what they were going for, then it was achieved very well, but coming from albums that very good production value and full sounds, this album was a bit of a surprise. Slightly unwelcome at times, but definitely more on the raw and bare side.
Overall, I like Torment, but I’m definitely not in love with it. The musicianship that is immortalized on this album is fantastic, and there are definitely quite a few wonderful gems as well, but there are flip sides to these pros as well. Metal Injection has been covering the new released singles very well, so if you’re a regular to this site you have already heard at least one of these songs. Barnes, Hugell and Pitruzzella have the potential to be an absolutely dangerous combination, so Torment notwithstanding, I am definitely not ready to give up on Six Feet Under, and clearly the band has no intentions of stopping anytime soon. I just hope that I’ll be able to review the next album, whenever that will be.