Six Feet Under
Nice whilst playing, but nothing that really sticks
Six Feet Under are one of those acts that you either love or loathe. Their hit and miss discography spans a dozen years, and consistency is not a term that could be associated with their output along the way either. Originally formed by vocalist Chris Barnes (ex-Cannibal Corpse, Torture Killer) and Obituary guitarist Allen West (who has since been replaced by Steve Swanson) as a side project, Six Feet Under soon emerged as a full time act with bassist Terry Butler (ex-Death, ex-Massacre) and drummer Greg Gall rounding out the line-up. Now, their seventh studio effort, titled Commandment, sees the quartet return to the formula of old.
It's immediately obvious by the time you get through Doomsday and Thou Shall Kill that Six Feet Under has rediscovered that which worked best for them in the past - mid paced, groove infested, down tuned death metal. Barnes' guttural growl is at best one dimensional and at times, irritating, but I guess the latter is more of a personal criticism. Some tidy tempo and timing changes keep Zombie Executioner interesting whilst the straight forward simplicity of The Edge Of The Hatchet is really quite mind numbing. Bled To Death flaunts with an Obituary like vibe in the riff department, which if the truth be told, is prevalent to varying degrees throughout several other tracks here as well.
The biggest problem with the bulk of Commandment though is that it isn't striking. It doesn't leave any kind of substantial impression on you when it's done for the first time or the fifth time. Resurrection Of The Rotten is a prime example of that. As The Blade Turns delivers a more solid ride over all, as does The Evil Eye before In A Vacant Grave shows off some tidy, yet extremely brief lead work from Swanson - a trait which this album could do with more of. The slow, meandering pace of Ghosts Of The Undead kicks up a gear or two when more of Swanson's fancy fret work appears which gives the track a whole new injection of energy but by now, it's too little too late.
Barnes nailed it with his performance on the most recent Torture Killer album, but doesn't quite seem to deliver the goods with Commandment. Musically, there are some excellent passages throughout the album and some true headbanging moments. But when it's over, there's nothing remaining that suggests that the album stands out amongst every other death metal band that is out there at the moment.
(Metal Blade Records/Stomp Distribution)