Six Feet Under
Vocalist sets the tone of going through the motions
With barely a year and a half since the release of their last album Commandment, Tampa (Florida) based death metal act Six Feet Under are back with their tenth studio album Death Rituals in as little as fifteen years together in existence. But after sitting through Death Rituals, one really has to ask why they even bothered. Unlike previous efforts, Death Rituals was apparently written and rehearsed long before the band entered the studio, which gave hope that after the band's last release, the four piece act (Comprising of ex-Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes, guitarist Steve Swanson, bassist Terry Butler and drummer Greg Gall) may have actually recorded something half way decent (Or at least on par with the somewhat O.K. tracks on 2005's 13).
But for all the hopes I had, it's safe to say that Death Rituals is nothing more than business as usual for Six Feet Under. And there lies the problem. While there's no denying that 'Death Rituals' does have its odd moment of inspiration (Such as the fast paced Into The Crematorium, the death 'n' roll influenced Eulogy For The Undead and the gang vocalised Seed Of Filth), there's just not enough to lift Death Rituals out of the bottom of the barrel it was initial scaped from.
A lot of the issues that plague Death Rituals is Barnes himself, and his overall performance on the album in general. While he's never been considered the greatest of vocalists within the death metal scene, his performance on Six Feet Under's latest effort is by far one of his most tired and autopilot performances in a long time. Sounding hoarse and without any range, it's becoming all too evident that while Barnes may have had some power and guttural grunt to match the best within the death metal scene in his days with Cannibal Corpse, now he just sounds hollow and monotone. Another issue is the compositions. Again, there's some real talent within the band, but there's nothing on Death Rituals to show that the band are challenging themselves or trying something new. Instead, they seem content to drift along knowing that diehard fans will buy this album regardless, and have become content with settling on doing what's expected of them and nothing more.
But last and not least is the fact that very few of the thirteen songs on Death Rituals are remotely original. Bar the titles mentioned above (And the goddamn bastardised cover of Mötley Crüe's Bastard), the album simply passes by without anything really registering, thus making it one of Six Feet Under's least memorable efforts. And as for the two instrumental interludes (Barnes' Crossroads To Armageddon and Swanson's Crossing The River Styx), you really would like to ask why they even bothered as they're not only out of place, but add nothing to the album. Six Feet Under undoubtedly sell albums, otherwise they wouldn't be around anymore. So as you would expect, Death Rituals is an album made purely for the fans, and no-one else. Everyone else with some taste in quality death metal will no doubt loathe it.
(Metal Blade Records/Stomp Records Distribution)