Release DetailsLABEL Metal Blade Records
RELEASED ON 4/17/2007
Six Feet Under
posted on 6/2007 By:
I liked but didn’t love Six Feet Under’s debut record, Haunted. It had a hefty dose of slow but brutal Obituary inspired riffing, courtesy of Obituary’s own Allen West, but also solid, simple up tempo grooves similar to Bolt Thrower. And let’s not forget ex-Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes manning the mic. Sounds perfect on paper and some songs were close, but the problem was that even though this was in essence an extension of Obituary with a few Bolt Thrower riffs sprinkled in, they never seemed to outshine either of those bands' releases. A tough task to be sure as those are two of my favorites, but when a side project is so closely related to the mother ship, it’s hard not to compare them head to head. And in that respect Six Feet Under fell short. So while I liked Haunted well enough, I never kept up with their future releases.
Fast forward twelve years and we have a former side project dropping their seventh album of original songs, narrowly beating out Obituary in that respect. Having not heard their newer work I was initially surprised by the similar but noticeably inferior songwriting, enough so that I checked their website to see who is still in the band. Apparently somewhere along the way they lost Allen West and it really shows. While they’re doing their best to ape his style of slow, groove filled songwriting, the majority of the songs here are mere ghosts of better, previously written material. It’s like those Renaissance era painting mills that churned out decent fakes of renowned artist’s paintings that would fool you at first glance but soon enough reveal themselves as less than the real thing.
That’s not to say this is a throw away album by any means. There’s some decent material on here, particularly the more up tempo numbers which inexplicably don’t start until the fifth song, but all of the songs are built on just a couple main riffs which are mercilessly beaten to death for the entirety of the song. Rather than filling the songs out with at least an acceptable number of riffs to keep your interest, it seems like their main weapon to combat this lack of variety is ending the songs around the three minute mark, before you lose it entirely. Of course the problem with that approach is when you listen to them back to back you get ten songs with about ten riffs for your half hour investment. Like eating ribs sometimes, you wonder if there’s any meat on those bones.
While I can somewhat stomach the lack of variety on the faster cuts, trading in diversity for speed and energy, the slower ones are truly cumbersome. Like their faster counterparts, these are comprised of one or two main riffs but they are stitched together with an excessive use of one chord ring outs and not much else. I don’t want to give Allen West sole credit for their past success in navigating this particularly tricky realm of the metal songwriting spectrum, but it seems like he was the true talent behind crafting slow but brutal songs that managed to grab your attention and keep it. Without him, Six Feet Under comes across as a technically competent but far less enjoyable band than when they started.
This is certainly a Six Feet Under record in spirit and technical execution but not in songwriting, at least when compared to their earliest work. It gets the job done and certainly no one can accuse them of trying to change their sound, but I fear they lost their luster when Allen West went packing. Of course if you’re just dying for more Six Feet Under you’ll get your fix here, but like any druggie, you’ll be looking back on how much better your first high was.
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