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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Six Feet Under

Haunted

Review by Mike Korn

When lead vocalist Chris Barnes abruptly left Cannibal Corpse, the band he had guided for so long, it sent shockwaves through the world of death metal, the world that Chris and Cannibal Corpse had helped to create. The end result of Barnes' dissatisfaction with his previous band was to form a new unit...Six Feet Under...that featured the contributions of other death metal luminaries such as Allen West (ex-Obituary) and Terry Butler (ex-Death).

Many supposed that Six Feet Under would be an even gorier and more intense manifestation of Cannibal Corpse's shredding sound. Instead, SFU took a different path. Their debut "Haunted" (which remains perhaps my favorite of their records to this day) dropped the obsession with speed and technicality that marked CC and opted for a slower, simpler style, more in the vein of Obituary. Driven by basic rhythms, this was a catchier beast than CC.almost like an AC/DC gone death metal. Barnes' guttural growls remained but became much easier to understand in SFU's more moderate pounding. One thing that did stay the same, though, was Barnes' predilection for graphic gore in the lyrics, though not as clinically inclined as his former band.

Since "Haunted", SFU has emerged as a death metal mainstay. Allen West has left the band and SFU has experimented with their sound while still retaining the simple fundamentals established here. Many "technical" death metal fans despise the catchy simplicity of SFU and it is true that it is not exactly challenging listening, but here on "Haunted" the band was at its morbid best.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Enemy Within
A warm buzzing guitar tone initiates the record like the tolling of a funeral bell. The song then builds into a surging, moderately paced death metal track with a very morbid feel. I like the way Barnes growls out "The enemy...the enemy...the enemy inside".
Silent Violence
This has a bit more of a rocking feel, but that rockiness is mixed with a real sick aura and lyrics to match.
Lycanthropy
Staccato riffing not unlike early Fear Factory is the hallmark of this tune, which is fairly average.
Still Alive
The barrage of lead guitar soloing by Allen West that kicks off this song is right out of the same book he used in Obituary. The track has a "swinging" feel to its simple hooks and the lyrics are so childishly gory that I just about laughed out loud hearing them.
Beneath a Black Sky
I like the way the vocal pattern embeds itself into your mind after hearing this brief cut. It shows that SFU has more songwriting craft than it is given credit for. The cut kind of "marches" along in a mid-paced, morbid mode.
Human Target
This is a very typical SFU cut and it's already obvious that the band is not going to deviate too far from its game plan here.
Remains of You
It's almost obscene that a song can be so catchy and yet so completely bleak and morbid at the same time. The main riff is so simple, it's brilliant and the fat thick power chords on the chorus form the perfect background for charming lyrics like "I took an axe to your head/Chopping rotted flesh/Brain is seeping from the cracks in your skull." Ah, romance!
Suffering in Ecstasy
The speed quotient is upped significantly here and the result is a really blistering death metal cut in a thrashing vein. The closest SFU gets to Cannibal Corpse, this is great stuff.
Tomorrow's Victim
Lumbering around like a zombie searching for human meat, you can't get much more basic and to the point to this. The "AC/DC of death metal" comparison is certainly very apt here.

Torn to the Bone
This is very Obituary like with its chording patterns. The drumming is a bit more hard hitting and up front than the other tracks, but otherwise, it's pretty typical SFU. A raspier, harsher vocal approach is briefly heard.
Haunted
This sounds a LOT like "Tomorrow's Victim" with just a slight alteration in the verse riff. Thing is, this is even better than that previous song and is again perversely catchy. The raspier vocals again appear to good effect and the lyrics are the very definition of morbidity.
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