(Metal Blade)

01. Swarm!
02. Forever Dead
03. A Funeral for the Masses
04. Multiple Counts of Murder
05. Obsessed with Homicide
06. Sadistic
07. Cannibal Gluttony
08. I Killed You
09. Heading Towards the Butchery
10. A Violent Scene of Death

RATING: 5/10

I think I liked it better when Finland's TORTURE KILLER was a gore-soaked death groove act that intentionally molded its sound after SIX FEET UNDER, as well as bands like OBITUARY. As a SIX FEET UNDER tribute band playing original songs with SFU's Chris Barnes' in the band, TORTURE KILLER becomes sort of a caricature of a caricature. As a fan of most of Chris Barnes' work and in no way among the vocal SFU haters, I found "Swarm!" to fall short of expectations not so much because of the caricature thing, but because the songwriting is mediocre (for this style, not for death metal in general). The music sounds like it was written as a vehicle for Barnes to sing (whether it actually was or not is irrelevant).

The band's 2003 debut, "For Maggots to Devour" wasn't trying to be original, but was still quite enjoyable. It sounds like a band having fun and playing a style of music that it loves. As for the new album, aside from an album-opening instrumental title track that is pretty darn cool, the remaining nine songs are tolerable, but less than inspiring. Songs such as "Forever Dead", "Obsessed with Homicide", "Sadistic", and "Cannibal Gluttony" all sport workable grooves and fun-filled lyrical gore that most fans of the style should be able to appreciate, at least to some extent. In addition, Barnes' voice sounds better than it does on SFU's "13" and his production skills are obviously improving.

Personally, I do not think any of the songs on "Swarm!" are bad by any stretch, and given my general fondness with this kind of rotting and putrid death metal fun, this is not an album I can outright slam. Regardless, the problem with "Swarm!" is that with a few possible exceptions it is a batch of songs that border on sounding like SFU outtakes.


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