Six Feet Under – Undead [9 out of 10]

By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal

Four years after the release of their last studio album “Death Rituals”, Florida-based death metal veterans Six Feet Under are back to start afresh with a new album and a new lineup. “Undead”, the band’s ninth studio album, will feature new members Rob Arnold on guitar & bass and Kevin Talley on drums, along with founding member and frontman Chris Barnes, and longstanding guitarist Steve Swanson. Barnes has called this album a rebirth for the band and promised to treat the fans with a rejuvenated Six Feet Under. They lived up to the promise as a live band, putting on some crushing performances during last year’s Summer Slaughter Tour, and it only remained to be seen whether the new album delivers to the same extent.

The sheer power of the music can be felt right from the opening note, lasting all the way till the end of the album. I have a feeling the album will be savored by fans of old-school death metal. Ominous guitar riffs and bestial vocals are the two most noticeable traits possessed by “Undead”. Barnes has done his reputation as an extreme metal vocalist no harm at all, and has turned in one of his best efforts when it comes to studio albums. Lyrically too, he has added a degree of intensity to every tune on here, and if you’re into reading lyrics and such, I’d recommend you to check out the lyrics for these tunes, quite a few of which have already been released by Barnes himself on his twitter account, or as lyric videos.

Music-wise, Rob Arnold has made a big difference to the band’s sound, and I definitely think that his groove-oriented approach fits in very cohesively with the other band members, enhances the album’s impact and hits the listener hard. While he was in Chimaira, I enjoyed listening to that band for his guitar work more than anything else, and I think he carries over the same kind of prowess into his work on this new Six Feet Under album. In addition, he has also laid down some ear-shattering bass lines throughout the album, specially on the tunes “Reckless” and “The Scar”. And of course, drummer Kevin Talley’s work with bands such as Daath, Chimaira, Nothnegal, The Red Chord, Hate Eternal and Black Dahlia Murder speaks for itself, and he has displayed his entire range of drumming talents on this album. In fact, it’s him who controls the speed of certain tunes with his varying drum fills on top of guitar riffs of similar tempo.

If you’re looking for technicality or speed, this album will most certainly not turn out to be your cup of tea. But if you’re into throat-grabbing riffs and groove-oriented extreme music, Six Feet Under’s “Undead” is right up your alley. Even though there is a clear degree of sameness about the album and the songs don’t vary too much from each other, I think that’s how a Six Feet Under album is supposed to sound anyway. You wouldn’t want it to keep throwing up variations just for the sake of it. The album has an easy flow to it, making the whole thing a worthwhile listen rather than just a couple of ‘singles’, and sounds very much like a cohesive effort by the band. Six Feet Under fans should have no reason to be disappointed or skeptical, because “Undead” is as good as anything they’ve ever released.

Although I do listen to my fair share of death metal and try out literally every new album that falls under this sub-genre, I certainly don’t listen to death metal all the time, and honestly I wouldn’t put it at the top of my list of favorite musical styles. But, Six Feet Under is a band I’ve always enjoyed, and from now on, whenever I’m in the headspace to listen to death metal, Six Feet Under’s “Undead” will be my first choice.

Rating: 9/10
[Click here to order the album via Amazon]

Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: May 22nd 2012

Track Listing:
01. Frozen At the Moment of Death
02. Formaldehyde
03. 18 Days
04. Molest Dead
05. Blood On My Hands
06. Missing Victims
07. Reckless
08. Near Death Experience
09. The Scar
10. Delayed Combustion Device
11. Vampire Apocalypse
12. The Depths of Depravity