Six Feet Under | ‘Undead’
When the new Six Feet Under album landed in my inbox, alarm bells began to shriek loudly.
Never the discerning metaller’s cup of tea, SFU have been churning out material which may be somewhat generously referred to as divisive for some time. With the departure of the evergreen but rather uninspiring Terry Butler and Greg Gall has come the arrival of Rob Arnold and Kevin Talley – bona fide and honed players. With them eyebrows and hopes have been raised for a long belated evolution.
The first thing to say here is that in terms of musicianship, the ante has been upped and upped significantly . The drumming is tight and cerebral, and the technicality of the guitar work, when unshackled, is an augmentation to the traditional SFU groove and chug that works to a point.
Despite this however, there is little to suggest any true departure from the traditional lurching banality which has come to define this band. Whether or not this is a positive is up for debate. Hefty and consistent record sales shout ‘plough on as we are’, the lights are on and burning brightly for the consuming masses.
There are tracks on this album which deliver, however. ‘Formaldehyde’, the single, is groovy and biting, and is well placed near the albums aperture. ‘The Scar’ has some majestically foul moments, and ‘Blood on my Hands’ provides a sublime intro and outro riff, nodding in the direction of Norway almost, a yawning, eastern dirge, well conceived and executed.
Alas, it is all too fleeting and this is where the good times end.
For a relatively short album, clocking in at around 40 minutes, the flagrant use of filler material is almost cheeky. ‘Missing Victims’ and ‘Vampire Apocalypse’ smack of simple laziness.
‘Delayed Combustion Device’ allows Tally a moment in the sun, but it’s not enough to save the tune from the scrapheap. The balance of the album doesn’t offer a single track which sticks in the mind or demand even a second listen. My own second coming to this release was a chore, and I counted myself as a fan of this band once upon a time.
The vocals, while surprisingly fresh sounding considering Barnes’ raspy style, are underutilized in terms of ‘range’, if that word can be used to describe anything that sets forth from his throat. The ubiquitous and maddening quarter note rhythm is of course on display, and the laughably juvenile lyrics present their credentials as always.
Overall, then, Undead is an album that will not provoke debate or second thoughts. It has arrived on schedule, and despite a change in personnel, it has left this reviewer po-faced and without emotion one way or the other.
It lacks even the charm of ‘Maximum Violence’ and isn’t quite as production-line sounding as the last couple they have peddled, but it is nothing worthy of fanfare or debate.
2.4 / 5 – Kevin Jacob ::: 03/06/12