Review Summary: So-so band release a so-so album
To be frank, Six Feet Under have been trotting down the path of monotony since their inception, consistently releasing poor to average albums every few years or so. The issue they face after what is now 20 years since Chris Barnes’ founded the project, is that after a run of consistently unremarkable hogwash, they barely even register of the radar anymore. Sure, in terms of commercial success, these guys are up there with some of the best, but their lack of artistic relevance in today’s death metal scene couldn’t be overstated. Unborn
shows a band attempting to correct their misdeeds, but at this point, it’s apparent that they lack both inspiration and ability.
consists of a multitude of death metal clichés, including but not limited to juvenile lyrics and inaudible bass. Jeff Hughell’s performance, when it can be heard, comes across as rather pedestrian, blending in with the guitars as if he weren’t even there. The drumming follows in the same vein as the bass work, while competent, it does little more than provide an obligatory rhythmic backdrop, recycling patterns and fills with irritating regularity. The strongpoint of the album is the groove-soaked mid-tempo riffing of Steve Swanson and Ola Englund. Their musicianship will hardly set the world alight, but the riffs are undeniably catchy and have some hefty staying power, sometimes trickling back into your head hours after the album has ended. Unfortunately, Chris Barnes’ vocals drag the whole experience down a notch. Lacking in range, audibility and projection, Barnes’ performance is - to put it bluntly - quite dull. For almost the entire album, Chris spits a barely decipherable mush of forced low-register growls, baring no resemblance to the delivery that characterised his Cannibal Corpse days.
While the individual performances of the musicians aren’t exactly spectacular, they at least appear to have recognised their strengths and mixed the guitars significantly higher than anything else. This devotion to the guitars basically relegates the performances of the other members to being part of an unobtrusive backdrop. They provide neat little aesthetic touches to the overall sound, but aren’t distracting, nor do they feel out of place. Being Six Feet Under, the song-writing on display here is obviously formulaic, but it works for the most. Most of the tracks are surprisingly easy to distinguish despite a lot of them appearing identical in terms of composition. Across the album, the riffs are diverse enough set individual tracks apart with relative ease, and due to said composition, the album is very consistent in a thematic sense. Sure, it is the standard verse-chorus affair we’ve all heard a million times before, but the strength of the riffs themselves and the simplicity of their implementation do make for a relatively enjoyable listen, if taken a song at a time.
is obviously not going to change the opinions of purists or vigilant detractors of this band. In fact, at this point, I don’t think Six Feet Under are ever going to release something that genuinely defies expectations as a maligned act within the death metal community. It may be too late to undo the damage done by their previous output, but at least these guys have appeared to make an effort on Unborn