When one sees song titles like "Fuck Them When They Bleed," "Cannibal Gluttony," "A Violent Scene of Death," and "Day of Cadavers," it is safe to assume that the band in question is providing death metal -- and death metal has indeed been the focus of Finland's Torture Killer, who have been responsible for all of those song titles as well as others that are equally grindcore-ish. Known for gross-out lyrics dealing with things like cannibalism, mutilation, and dismemberment, Torture Killer has thrived on shock value. But they have done it in a very ironic way, and their albums have been an exercise in dark humor more than anything. Lyrically, Torture Killer gets a lot of inspiration from early-‘90s grindcore bands like Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, and Cancer, but musically, they have never been a grindcore band in the strict sense. Rather, Torture Killer's work has combined death metal elements (including the stereotypical "Cookie Monster" growling vocals) with elements of thrash metal.
Formed in Turku, Finland in 2002, Torture Killer started out as a cover band and played songs by Six Feet Under and Obituary. In fact, the name Torture Killer was inspired by a Six Feet Under song. But the Finns soon began writing original material, and their first full-length album, For Maggots to Devour, was recorded in early 2003 and released by Karmageddon Media. Two years later, the band was approached by American singer Chris Barnes, leader of Six Feet Under and the former lead singer of Cannibal Corpse. Torture Killer was experiencing lineup problems in 2005 -- which is hardly uncommon in the death metal/black metal fields -- and Barnes ended up becoming Torture Killer's new lead singer, although he continued to lead Six Feet Under and divided his time between the two bands for a few years. In 2005, Torture Killer signed with Metal Blade, which released their second full-length album, Swarm!, in 2006; in addition to singing lead on that album, Barnes wrote more than half the songs. In early 2008, Barnes announced that he was leaving Torture Killer, and Juri Sallinen was hired as his replacement. In March 2008, Torture Killer's lineup included Sallinen (who has also been with the bands Krypta, Ghost Realm, Funeral Feast, Occult Astral, and Wormfarm) on lead vocals, Tuomas Karppinen and Jari Laine (formerly of Crimson Midwinter) on guitar, Kim Torniainen on bass, and Tuomo Latvala (formerly of Hellbox and Torn) on drums. ~ Alex Henderson