Torture Killer Swarm!

This little-known Finnish band have undergone a sort of reverse Rock Star story: what started as a Six Feet Under sound-alike band piqued the interest of SFU front-man Chris Barnes so much that he’s now joined Torture Killer full time as main vocalist. Swarm! is the outcome, which is a boon for fans of both Barnes and TK, though Barnes’ debilitating vox is the only caveat. After the instrumental title track merely scratches the surface of what lies within, "Forever Dead” ends up sounding like an outtake of Six Feet Under’s sessions for Haunted, from Barnes’ one-dimensional barks to guitarist Jari Laine’s Allen West-styled dive-bombing solos. "Sadistic” and "Cannibal Gluttony” add a fresher pulse to oldie-mouldy Obituary riffs, but again there’s mixed results: though the musicianship is prime — especially Tuomo Latvala’s calculated drum fills — Barnes’ singing isn’t up to snuff. Disregarding his sloppily sung verses, the choruses and bridges of "Multiple Counts of Murder” are particularly solid: Barnes’ classic SFU delivery with tinges of Katatonia/Daylight Dies type chords from guitarist Tuomas Karppinen. The jury’s still out as to why Barnes shoved his hand in this rotting pie in the first place, and where this involvement leaves SFU’s wheezing death machine. In the meantime, Swarm! (with Wes Benscoter cover art, too) is the best music from Barnes since 1997’s Warpath, even though his voice is the worst part of it. (Metal Blade)