Since their inception Six Feet Under has undergone lots of legitimate and harsh criticism about their style of death ‘n’ roll, yet Chris Barnes (vocals; ex-Cannibal Corpse) and friends never seems to let it bother them too much. The last work of Six Feet Under I checked out was back in 2003 when “Bringer Of Blood” was hot off the presses, which resulted in one of the most ham-fisted and unintentionally hilarious music video ever being produced for ‘Amerika the Brutal’, and like the rest of the world I was greatly underwhelmed by it. I honestly have not been able to make it through an entire Six Feet Under album whilst completely sober in years. I just thought it couldn’t be done because each one of their albums are as abysmal as the last. There has always been something so ridiculously mediocre about the way the band took their musical approach. But what about now?
It is my belief that Six Feet Under wishes for “Undead” to be an olive branch to the unmerciful legions that the band has subjected their uninhibited musical terror upon during their near twenty year existence, and do you want to know something? This will make me sound crazy, but they may very well be on their way to crafting a respectable death metal album for the first time in their career.
‘Frozen At the Moment of Death’ and ‘Formaldehyde’ open up the album with straight-forward death metal, if not a little melodic in nature, but none-the-less is engaging, which is a major surprise in of itself. I was even tapping my feet to the rhythmic older Cannibal Corpse-like flow of ’18 Days’. I was amazed that while the rock-and-roll elements were still very much present in Six Feet Under‘s compositions that they were taking a much needed backseat to their death metal counterpart. Unfortunately once I had gotten to ‘Missing Victims’ things were getting a little less consistent.
One of the major reasons why I was never a fan of Six Feet Under is because I have not enjoyed the way they implement the their death ‘n’ roll. Bands like Gorefest and Entombed were able to do it just fine, but, in my opinion, Six Feet Under has never been able to make that concept work for them. The entire second half of “Undead” (with the exception of ‘Near Death Experience’) is the exact reason why I never pay this band any attention. I was nearly falling asleep during it, particularly ‘Delayed Combustion Device’ and ‘Vampire Apocalypse’. Not to mention that I am really struggling to try and find words to talk about any of this portion of “Undead” which is very telling in of itself and nearly impossible considering I am such a long-winded bastard.
This is one of Metal Blade’s biggest bands, so of course the production is going to be top-notch. Everything does sound great and the engineers did their jobs well. The only real problem I have is with Chris Barnes. Outside of his work with Cannibal Corpse, I have never enjoyed his vocal style in Six Feet Under. There is just something about it that just grates on my every nerve and sounds like he can’t hold a note that is longer than two seconds. But, that’s just me venting, and I’m sure others may have differing opinions.
While “Undead” may not be the saving grace that Six Feet Under hoped it would be, this is still leagues ahead of anything else they had ever recorded. The first five songs are an amazing transformation for what could have been a great album, but alas, it was just not meant to be. If the band ever decides to go in that more straight-forward direction then I can see them creating something much longer lasting. If not, then I guess if the band ever breaks up then Chris has a future career of being a used car salesman.
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