Six Feet Under // Undead
Rating: 2.0/5.0 — Mostly dead
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: sfu420.com  |  myspace.com
Release Dates:  EU: 2012.05.21 US: 05.22.2012

Let’s just be brootally honest for a moment, shall we? Six Feet Under is the worst “big” band in the entire death metal genre. Most of their releases are either below average or simply godawful, and after a seventeen year run, they can only boast two semi-good albums of original material. They’ve spewed platter after platter of groove-based, chuggy, simplistic death that only fellow neanderthal deathers Jungle Rot could fully appreciate (though they probably look down on them a bit too).  When they’ve tried innovation, it was dubious at best (gangsta death metal with Ice T? really??). It speaks volumes that their Graveyard Classics series of novelty cover albums are way more entertaining than their original material. With such a dismal track record, I’m sure you’ll forgive Steel Druhm for having exceedingly low expectations for Undead, their latest foray into mining the lowest common denominator of metal. To be entirely fair, their last slab of original stuff, 2008’s Death Ritual, was one of their “best” to date. On top of that, they’re now functioning as a five piece, with some talented new blood. Maybe I’m in for a happy surprise after all.

Low and behold, lead track “Frozen at the Moment of Death” doesn’t suck as much as expected. It’s an energetic, ripping chunk-o-death, with more than a little Morbid Angel flavor in the riffing. Even Chris Barnes’s typically low-rent, cupped mic vocals don’t mess things up too much. Likewise, follow-up “Formaldehyde” is respectable and has some nifty, escalating riff patterns and a whammy-bar solo Kerry King would proudly put Jeff Hanneman’s name on (behind his back). More good riffs await in “18 Days” and by now, Steel Druhm is utterly confused. Who replaced these guys with a serious death metal band??

My confusion is short-lived however, and with “Molest Dead,” the REAL Six Feet Under reasserts itself. It’s generic death all day long, with stale riffing and nonstop vocals that go “mer ger her YAAAH.” “Blood on My Hands” tries for something akin to a melodic chorus and a somber, Finnish melo-death riff-style, but it falls completely flat. “Reckless” is a return to their early period attempts to combine AC/DC riffs with death metal, and it works not at all. In fact, Barnes sub-basement squealing alongside a quasi-rock riff is as silly as any of the Graveyard Classics covers. Other tracks Like “Missing Victims” and “Vampire Apocalypse”  stomp right past with nothing to distinguish themselves and are instantly forgotten.

As with most of SFU‘s material, at it’s best it rises to the lofty level of serviceable. Most of it doesn’t even aspire that high. Sure, you can hear flashes of Morbid Angel, Death and old Cannibal Corpse in Steve Swanson’s riffing, but there’s so much mindless chugging, you get bored to death waiting for the next mildly interesting flourish. The inclusion of extra axeman Rob Arnold (Chimaira) doesn’t add as much to the sound as I would have expected either. Living down to low expectations, Chris Barnes spends most of the album sounding like a garbage disposal struggling mightily with the evening leftovers. His delivery is so totally incomprehensible, I feel lucky if I can understand six words per album. This time out, I’m pretty sure I heard him say “kill,” “dead,” “molest” and possibly “cucumber.” Even in a genre where vocal ability is quite limited, he’s at the bottom of the barrel, trying to dig his way deeper still. Even skilled new drummer Kevin Talley (Nothnegal, ex-Hate Eternal) can’t help things much and he’s given little to do on most songs.

When the material itself isn’t shooting them in the foot, the production does it for them. Here, it’s totally flat and nondescript. The guitars have little edge or power and things feel washed out and bland (which suits the music perfectly).

While there are a few above-average songs (especially by SFU standards) at the front-end of things, after that, it’s a tedious slog through the wasteland of Generica. By the back third of Undead, I was actually hoping Ice T would ride to the rescue and provide some entertainment value. He didn’t. With so much good death metal out there these days, I can’t see any reason to get this. It’s just too damn boring and uninspired. Now, how about a Graveyard Classics album covering the best of Krokus?

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  • Hahaha fun review to read, agree completely. SFU sucks. Kinda cool cover art though. Shame.

  • Low and Behold? LOW and Behold? I hope that was a bad pun. 

  • Great review.Horrible band

  • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

    So then it’s settled: having Ice-T around makes any album better.

    Also, SFU sucks balls.

    • Who could argue with either point?

      • jon

        Here let me argue point 1: Black Sabbath “The Illusion of Power” from Forbidden. To be fair that whole album is shit but Ice-T certainly didn’t make it better.

        Point 2: Six Feet Under is probably the worst thing ever, although Graveyard Classics Volume II:Back in Black is the best unintentional comedy album I’ve ever heard.

        • That’s an interesting point. Forbidden had its share of problems, no doubt. Oddly, I didn’t mind Ice T on there. I’ll also admit to liking a few songs on there to boot.

          I agree the AC/DC album is hysterical, but I have to assume they realized that as they recorded it.

      • Aaron Bennett

        Maximum Violence and Haunted were actually pretty good, haven’t really listened to the rest.

  • Zadion

     I just love when a horrible album comes out, because your accompanying review is always hilarious.

    • I felt kinda bad tearing this one apart but I had to do it. Glad you enjoyed!

  • Well, it has been discussed here and pretty much everybody has been in agreement that Black metal is in dire need of innovation and a jumpstart in creativity, reading this review makes me think if it isn’t time we start to have the same discussion about the big Death metal umbrella? With big names like Cannibal Corpse making “by the numbers” stuff at best and Morbid Angel becoming an inside joke that most won’t even find funny, we have a dismal number of mediocre to downright bad releases that give me the impression that DM is in quite a bad shape these days. 

  • KingKuranes

    Hahaha: “at it’s best it rises to the lofty level of serviceable”

  • ive not paid attention to this band for a long time, but this album surprised me a lot, admittedly theres a couple of tracks that are clunkers like reckless. these days with tons of technical death metal bands around its kind refreshing sometimes to hear songs with grove n grind in them, just a bit more basic.  i usually like your reviews but this was obviously just a piss take and you wanted to slag them as much as possible and came off as kinda childish. not really a kind of critical review just a “i hate this band so give them a shit sandwich type of review”. poor show.

    • Not sure what you wanted me to do here. I never thought they were a good band and I don’t think this album is good either. I gave them credit for the songs that were above average and called them on the stuff that was poor. If you disagree, that’s great. More power to you if this album speaks to you. It didn’t speak to me.

      •  looking back at the review i may have judged it hastily. believe me there is so much better stuff out there than six feet under of course there is, but this album just seems a step in the right direction. in a slew of tech death metal releases where songs don’t stand out there’s some really good tracks on this. the first 3 , missing victims, near death experience, delayed combustion. its a 7 out of 10 for me. this band did become a joke and i guess as you can see from the comments here it just becomes about slagging them off even when they have released a decent album.
        for example “oh haha i love when a horrible album comes out” or “SFU sucks”. maybe it was the childish comments on here that pissed me off a bit and not your review.

  • “Chris Barnes spends most of the album sounding like a garbage disposal struggling mightily with the evening leftovers.”
    Posted that shit to my Facebook.  I was caught by surprise by that line and laughed my ass off.  Mer ger her YAAAAY!!

  • Toby McDonald

    I don’t know what the fuck you are listening to. I can see how you would hate the graveyard classics albums, they were never meant to be taken too seriously. I can see how you would not like some of the material after Haunted. I get it. Six Feet Under has been a pretty mediocre band with some good songs here and there. However this new album slays. There are only a few filler type songs. I saw them play live a few months ago and they were absolutely amazing. The new songs sounded brutal. This is one of my favorite albums of 2012 and a true return to form for the death metal legend Chris Barnes. This album to me is their best album since Maximum Violence and is extremely well written and executed. 8/10 for sure. 

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