Six Feet Under has always been a of bulwark of crude, yet very effective old-school death metal. The band enjoyed a fairly stable line-up over the years. Recently Terry Butler (bass) and Greg Gall (drums) decided to leave, but they were quickly replaced by former Chimaira guitarist Rob Arnold and drummer extraordinaire/gun for hire Kevin Talley (Chimaira, Misery Index and Dying Fetus). Newcomer Jeff Hughell (bass) completes the current line-up, together with long time members Chris Barnes (vocals) and Steve Swanson (guitars). Let’s see how their latest album, entitled “Undead” is affected by the recent changes.
Don’t worry folks, Six Feet Under hasn’t suddenly turned into some high-speed technical death metal band akin to Obscura or Abysmal Dawn. Chris Barnes’ vocals are still as guttural and deranged as they ever were, the whole typical Six Feet Under gore and zombie rhetoric is still very much intact and Steve Swanson still give the band it’s trademark old-school death metal swagger. It’s just that the contributions of Rob Arnold and Kevin Talley give Six Feet Under the proverbial kick in the ass/corpse and that’s exactly what gives “Undead” its frenetic and somewhat more technical edge.
“Undead” has its fair share of traditional Six Feet Under mid-tempo stompers in the form of “Molest Death”, “Reckless” and “Near Death Experience”. However, it’s the slightly technical edge of “Frozen At Moment Of Death” and “Delayed Combustion Device” that really does it for me. Also the classic Morbid Angel/Cannibal Corpse groove of “Formaldehyde” and the doomy character and “18 Days” that really gives “Undead” its flavour in my book.
The previous album was produced by Chris Barnes himself, but this time around Mark Lewis (Devildriver, Deicide) and Jason Suecof (God Forbid, Job For A Cowboy) took care of the producing, mixing and mastering duties. It’s a good thing, because they gave “Undead” a modern, yet aggressive sound.
In the past I had a lot of harsh things to say about Six Feet Under and especially about their rather simplistic approach to death metal. However, Barnes and Co managed to win me over with “Undead”, due to its inherit freshness and a solid collection of splendid songs. Great stuff!