Growing up in the 90’s I was introduced to Death Metal thanks to one band and in particular, one cameo in a movie. That movie was Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and the band was Cannibal Corpse. I purchased the VHS because of how funny and awesome Jim Carrey was on In Living Color and yet wore the VHS tape out because of Cannibal Corpse.
From the huge blood drenched Cannibal Corpse logo, to the machine gun blast beats from Paul and the guttural un-human noises coming from that monster under all of the hair, Chris Barnes, the first time I saw that clip I was absolutely fucking terrified and completely enthralled. I was listening to Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica at the time and had never heard or seen anything so heavy and horrific as that day. I immediately went out and picked up The Bleeding as it was the only one my local music store had in stock. I loved every second of that album and in my mind it still stands as the absolute pinnacle of Death Metal production. The guitars were chunky and clear, the bass sounded fat and clean, the snare blasted through the mix and Chris vocals were audible! I could understand every single nasty lyric as clear as day and loved the delivery on every song. After going backwards through Cannibal Corpse’s discography, I fell in love with the band and became a huge fan. I bought every album, every t shirt and even mailed into the Maggot Colony fan club and was mailed back actual uncensored covers of Tomb of the Mutilated & Butchered at Birth from the band themselves. The Graveside Entertainment logo is even a tweaked version of my old HorrorMonsters logo that I paid Cannibal Corpse artist Vince Locke to design for my old horror movie shop!
I waited with baited breath to the follow up album from my new favourite band. Suffice to say I was completely shocked and saddened that I would never get my follow up record from the band with my favourite vocalist in the business. When I first read that Chris Barnes was no longer in the band and was being replaced, I thought they were absolutely insane. Why would a band remove it’s most recognizable member, the voice of the band, the guy who designed the logo and did all of the interviews? I was furious and thought they were done. Well I was wrong. What actually ended up happening was we got two fucking awesome bands out of the split. Cannibal Corpse continued on with another nice guy in the biz, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and kept making brutally technical and yet hooky death metal and Chris created the band of my dreams. Combining his same vocal ferocity and depraved lyrics from Cannibal and mixing them with Obituary driven guitar riffs from Allen West, it was as if my two fave Death Metal Bands Obituary and Cannibal fucked and had an evil demonic yet groovy as fuck baby named Six Feet Under. I bought Haunted on the day of it’s release and loved every song on the album, front to back. I even went as far as tracking down the Haunting of Morella and watched it because it had the same cover as Haunted. Sadly the movie was nowhere near as quality as the album bearing it’s artwork.
While Six Feet Under’s groove laced Death Metal blew me away on Haunted, I did find the formula began to grow a bit stale over the years as songs while still groovy and catchy as hell, didn’t have the same punch they once did when the formula was fresh. While the band still has dropped killer albums along the way with production bordering on “The Bleeding – Scott Burns Morrisound quality” (Commandment especially), they never made the same impression with me that Haunted did. Suffice to say, I was getting bored with Death Metal in general. I felt that between technical ferocity and groove of many bands in the genre, the songwriting was always lost. Heavy focus was placed on writing the most intricate riffs possible at breakneck speeds, and less focus was placed on writing songs with catchy hooks, and singable choruses. Songs like Skull Full of Maggots, Stripped, Raped & Strangled, & Human Target seemed to be a thing of the past.
After hearing of the lineup changes in the SFU camp, I excitedly decided to check out the preview tracks of Undead and realized the new direction was a fresh direction for the band. Rob Arnold’s guitar work is still very groove infused and hooky, yet features some of the intricate Death Metal namesakes into the mix and yep, there are blast beats on this record! Kevin Talley (Daath) is an awesome drummer and brings the speed and intensity into the album and hits very hard. The dude smashes his drums! This new SFU lineup is fierce, technical, and still heavily focused on the groove roots of the band. Chris is again in top form, spewing out disturbing lyrics he’s know for and singing them with seething rage and passion. Nobody delivers a terrifying zombie scream like he does; it sounds positively horrifying.
In recent events Guitarist and Songwriter Rob Arnold has decided to sit out touring with the band. Ola Englund (Feared) has since been hired as his touring replacement. I discovered Ola from his YouTube gear reviews and sound demo’s and can attest to his fantastic guitar work with previous band Feared and feel he will breathe another breath of fresh air into Six Feet Under.
Undead is the best album this band has released since the beginning of it’s career. It is ironic that an album called Undead features the most lively and energetic songwriting since Haunted – a shambling, slow moving corpse this album is not!
Honestly most Death Metal isn’t for my tastes anymore and while I miss the old Morrisound Scott Burns days I think Undead certainly is a rebirth for Chris and Six Feet Under and is an album that every fan of Death Metal should own. It’s definitely been added to my Death Metal collection with the rest of Cannibal Corpse & Six Feet Under’s albums!