Six Feet Under – Killing For Revenge Review

Oh my, look what has fallen into my deceptively large, crystalline lap. A brand new slab of knuckle-dragging caveman death metal from USDA-certified veterans, Six Feet Under. They’ve blazed a bloody trail of resentment and glass-eating rage through these hallowed halls, rarely resting long before moving on to the next hapless victim reviewer. Said reviewer happens to be me, resident master of the masochistic arts and winner of the highly attended AMG lottery for Six Feet Under reviewing rights.1 The band’s 14th(!) LP, Killing For Revenge, has arrived in all its gory glory, far removed from 2020’s abysmal Nightmares of the Decomposed. Four years and a pandemic on, surely The Chris Barnes Band has learned their lessons and found a way to reclaim past glories. Surely. Right? RIGHT?!?

The formation and turboviral persistence of Six Feet Under is a tale etched in the annals of metal, one that needs little explaining here. Mic-handler and Cookie Monster impersonator extraordinaire Chris Barnes has retained fellow ex-Cannibal Corpse guitarist Jack Owen for a second album, and it seems the entire band from Nightmares… is returning; something of a feat in the SFUnderverse. Marco Pitruzzella (drums) and Jeff Hughell (bass) comprise the rhythm section, doing a commendable job of keeping heads banging in the uptempo thrashy numbers (“Know-Nothing Ingrate,” “Judgement Day”). Ray Suhy joins Owen on guitars, and while their solos are prolific and workmanlike, they often feel pinched and thin in tone against the rest of the instruments (“Ascension,” “Bestial Savagery”). The band puts in mostly solid work for the 47 minutes of Killing For Revenge, but let’s be honest, nobody’s reading this review to hear me talk about them.

If you’re looking for a visceral, analogy-ridden tongue-lashing of Chris Barnes I’d direct you to the previously linked SFU reviews, because that’s not what you’re going to find here. At least not completely. I will applaud Barnes for sensing (or following direction) that his nails-on-the-chalkboard squeals from Nightmareswere the wrong direction, because they’re completely absent on this record. And I’ll admit to understanding the lyrics roughly 35% of the time on Killing For Revenge, which is a higher percentage than most of the “modern-era” SFU records (I can’t believe we didn’t do a ranking). But my accolades, wispy and paper-thin as they are, end there.

For Revenge opens with a strong four-song run of thrashy, stomping schoolyard death numbers that, sans vocals, might be a template for some good Morbid Angel or Kreator worship. But the infamous gurgling, guttural, choked-off growl that is Barnes’ signature delivery consistently pulls the listener out of the groove and into “fuck, is this guy serious?” land. The vocals reach an album low in “Neanderthal,” a track so aptly named the irony imprinted itself in my forehead. Amidst a plodding, painfully elementary doom riff, Barnes spews the song’s title over and over, struggling to reach the low pitches and audibly breaking his growl multiple times. As the record progresses his vocals struggle more and more to catch up in timing with the higher BPM pieces, as if he was recording in real-time and was losing steam as the record went on (“Bestial Savagery,” “Mass Casualty Murdercide”). Whatever the reason, the resulting vocal performance is off-putting, distracting, and comes off as a bizarre parody of death metal vocals. The band isn’t completely off the hook either, with the mid-album slog from “Hostility Against Mankind” to “Neanderthal” seeing them indulge their worst stoner doom instincts, obliterating any momentum offered by the opening tracks. They fare better on songs with shorter run times and leaner riffs (“Judgement Day,” “Spoils of War”) although by the end of the album, the verse-chorus-solo structure becomes worn out and obvious. The closing cover of Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog” is the most fun on the entire record, if only because it sees the band embracing their grotesque, broken dichotomy.

Killing For Revenge doesn’t reinvent the Six Feet Under wheel, and that’s not going to win many new adherents, certainly not this reviewer. There are those who tolerate Barnes’ vocal style and find enjoyment in the band’s slobbering caveman deathisms, and they may find progression in this record. It’s certainly not as jaw-droppingly deplorable as Nightmares.., and may point a way forward. But if this is the first step towards something even marginally better, it still pales in comparison to the band’s past achievements. I now leave Barnes and Co. for the next reviewer, another in an unending line of intrigue, horror, and perpetual disappointment. Westu hál future writer, ferðu.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Metal Blade | Bandcamp
Websites: | Bandcamp
Releases Worldwide: May 10, 2024

Show 1 footnote

  1. May the odds be never in your favor. – Steel
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