Six Feet Under – “Torment” (Metal Blade Records)
The bass. An instrument so crucial yet so painfully ignored in so many instances. I remember hearing people talking about a band, often overlooking the bassist perhaps intentionally like some unwelcome necessity or even worse, being taken for granted. Either way that’s all set to change here. Chris Barnes, the savage front man of his equally viscerally titled band, Six Feet Under has walked hand in hand with controversy as if he was courting itself! Never one to conform, yet never one to rebel, this weed aficionado has been content on doin’ his own thang but amazingly has amassed a legion of fans along the way to his self styled SFU death metal! In recent years the band, or rather Barnes, has seen a variety of line ups, and here he introduces us to a couple of new feral puppies in demon drummer Marco Pitruzzella and bassist Jeff Hughell – both of Brain Drill and Vile heritage – who lay utter waste to this release. In fact, I thought Ray Suhy was SFU’s guitarist but the multi talented Hughell seems to be handling all guitars, and together with Pitruzzella, has written the flammable music to which Barnes has penned his demented lyrics. Despite approaching middle age, don’t be fooled into thinking Barnes has lost his marbles in a karmic weed state. His twisted mind is as calculating as it’s ever been. The intensity of this record is unbelievable as Hughell and Pitruzzella rampage all over it, while displaying breathtaking levels of technicality from Hughell’s technical bass line plucking to Pitruzzella’s devastating speed and precision, even adding a somewhat exotic touch on aptly named tracks like ‘Obsidian’. That said, and with great relief I might add, is that the SFU sound hasn’t really changed a great deal with those trademark monster grooves still present and even with Hughell handling the guitar, the riffs are utterly grim. Needless to say, there’s a heavy back end to the material with tracks like the doomentia of ‘Skeleton’ or the groovy ‘Slaughtered As They Slept‘ over which Barnes lays his insane ‘vocals’ matching the equally weirdly titled ‘Bloody Underwear’! If there is one area that “Torment” lacks then it is in the lack of soloing, which presumably Suhywould’ve added but is somewhat devoid, hence no all star rating. Still, the 12 meaty tracks of bone and gristle here should satiate the blood lust of any skull bashing cannibal, young or old!