Tracklist1. Frozen At the Moment of Death
3. 18 Days
4. Molest Dead
5. Blood On My hands
6. Missing Victims
8. Near Death Experience
9. Delayed Combustion Device
10. The Scar
11. Vampire Apocalypse
12. The Depths of Depravity
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Old-school is made fresh again with Six Feet Under’s latest. Rather than conform to the modern standards of death metal and riddle it with overused blast beats, br00tal breakdowns, and mindless song structures, Six Feet Under stick to what they know best: organ-grinding, bone-crushing, good ol’ fashioned DEATH METAL. That’s not to say this is the same Six Feet Under that was originally started as a side project by then-current Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes in 1993 and later established as a pioneer death metal act in Tampa, Florida; as Barnes himself has said about the record, this is a rebirth of the band, and it is a fine one at that. What you’ll find on Undead is 12 pounding tracks of relentless and groovy insanity that grabs you by the jugular and doesn’t let go. From the eerie opening notes of “Frozen at the Moment of Death,” to the Pantera-gone-death-metal “Missing Victims,” all the way to the sinister final riff of “The Depths of Depravity,” Six Feet Under pummels with a renewed sense of confidence and prove after several years of uncertainty that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
This newly found sense of destruction is largely due in part to the battle-ready new line-up Chris Barnes hand-picked to help him with the writing process on Undead. Rob Arnold of Chimaira joined Six Feet Under last year in 2011, and after listening to Undead, it kind of makes you wish he was a part of the band from the beginning. His onslaught of apocalyptic riffs and head-bobbing groove are the basis for Undead, and he seems right at home playing in Six Feet Under. Arnold’s groovy style definitely carries over from his playing in Chimaira (see “18 Days”), and any fan of that band would most likely be able to instantly recognize his forensics all over this album. However, he most definitely does not recycle riffs or repeat himself, and he keeps his signature style fresh on Undead. It is a true shame he decided not to tour with Six Feet Under on the day Undead was released; it would’ve been awesome to see him playing these songs live. In the drum department, we have Kevin Talley from Dååth and Dying Fetus, who also has a history of playing with Rob Arnold in Chimaira. His drum work is always inhuman, and it’s no different on Undead. Kevin Talley is akin to a mythical beast with 8 arms and 4 legs; whether it’s his flawless blasting, tasteful cymbal accents, or his fluid double bass grooves, it hard to imagine how a human being with only two arms and two legs could possibly be capable of playing the stuff he’s playing, and because of this, the drums are a much stronger and more integral part of the music than they ever have been in Six Feet Under’s past. Six Feet Under veteran Steve Swanson provides some dark and twisted lead work for Undead, and of course there is the legendary Chris Barnes, who, with his instantly recognizable guttural growl, belts out some rather stereotypical yet fitting death metal chants that are, surprisingly enough, rather catchy.
Super-producer Mark Lewis did a superb job with the production on Undead. Compared to the pounding guitar-tones and in-your-face drums which have been cemented as the modern-day standard for metal production by Audiohammer Studios, Undead’s production is decidedly old-school, having more in common with Scott Burn’s production on Cannibal Corpse’s Tomb of the Mutilated than say, the latest Whitechapel album, which Mark Lewis also produced. The guitar tone used on Undead is perfect for this album, and it gives it even more of that old-school vibe. However, he does make use of some modern techniques, such as the awesome “bass drop” that occurs leading into the bridge of “Reckless,” which, if your head is attached to your neck, will inevitably cause some head-bobbing and/or headbanging.
It’s nice to see REAL death metal from the masters making a comeback. Last year, Decapitated and Hate Eternal both put out stellar albums, and this year, we had Cannibal Corpse and now Six Feet Under destroy us with their signature brand of old-school death metal. Undead hearkens back to the days when the Florida death metal scene was exploding in the 80’s, and if the goal for Chris Barnes and his new war horses was to pay tribute to the scene Six Feet Under helped to pioneer, they most definitely succeeded. However, they also succeeded in releasing an album that shows all of these new school cats how it’s supposed to be done.