Six Feet Under – “Undead”

Six Feet Under – “Undead” (Metal Blade Records)

SFU – a name that has sent shivers down my spine: hardcore, visceral death metal played by one of the genre’s pioneers, Chris Barnes. Along with OG guitarist Allen West (ex Obituary) and sadly now gone bassist Terry Butler (ex Death), SFU death metal was on an uber level not just technically, but being downright fuckin evil. It’s been 4 years since Barnes came outta the Florida swamps in which he resides, and I was expecting an even more abominable death platter, served up bloody by the dreadlocked fiend himself. However, with his goatee gone, as well as Terry and even OG Greg Gall also amiss, my mind raced into full flight as to what to expect. Now graced with an additional guitarist in Ola Englund to replace the short lived Rob Arnold, we are now with a more technically proficient band but sadly lacking that original primordial brutality. Don’t get me wrong, songs like ‘Vampire Apocalypse’, ‘The Depths Of Depravity’ and ‘Molest Dead’ are very much SFU in their sound, and Barnes’s lyrics remain true, but I suspect the younger replacements to Butler and Gall just haven’t lived DM the way those defining pioneers have, so what they produce is an interpretation, rather than an original inception musically. Second, the production has polished up the sound to the point where its now on par with the likes of Morbid Angel or Nile, perfect for showcasing the technical wizardry of those bands – for that is their forte – but leaving Barnes without the raw bloodbath on which to lay over his weird ‘vocals’. With former band mates Cannibal Corpse having already produced a formidable album this year which ironically saw them return to their death metal basics, “Undead” has sorta gone in the opposite direction, so it will be interesting indeed to see which one triumphs as the supreme zombie!

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