2012’s “Undead” marked something of a progression for Florida death metal groovers Six Feet Under from the fairly static (in the nicest possible way) formula of their early albums. Not that they sounded like Marillion on that album but there were certain musical tweaks that added enough life to their template to mark the album out from what had gone before. Move forward a year, change the line-up (naturally) and “Unborn” is… born, if you like.
The grooves that the band have always mixed in with their brutal but accessible death metal sound are still there but instead of rumbling in the background they’re leading the songs a little bit more. Take away vocalist Chris Barnes’ gargling-with-nails vocals and the likes of ‘Zombie Blood Curse’ – which features Torture Killer guitarist Jani Laine – has more in common with “Endgame”-era Megadeth than it does with Cannibal Corpse or Dying Fetus. Not that they’ve gone soft, as the guitar work here is still punishing, but the slick production job allows a little more to be going on than just blasting your ears with cast iron riffage.
Tracks like the multi-layered ‘Fragment’ have some nice Iron Maiden-style soloing moving in and out of the chugging riffs, whilst the creeping ‘Incision’ bubbles away with an understated aggression that never explodes into out-and-out blastbeat fury but you feel that it could at any time.
Adding a little more musicality to their core sound certainly hasn’t done Six Feet Under any harm over the course of these last two albums, and “Unborn” has a pretty solid case for being recognised as possibly their best album once it has settled in. If Six Feet Under have never quite dug your grave then give “Unborn” a try as it could just be the one to convince you that there is more to this band than being just a Cannibal Corpse splinter group.