Six Feet Under
It's not at all hard to continue on the death metal journey that's known as Six Feet Under. Regardless of the band being fronted by the most significant growler this genre has ever seen, the band always delivers solid doses of high end heavy metal that, unlike most death metal, doesn't rely on hyperspeed to mask shoddy playing. To the contrary, I might call Six Feet Under the very original, true metalcore band in the sense that they brought a touch of melody to the sound and then mixed vocal brutality to that from day one. These days, damn near every single one of the new age metal bands does that, but back when Six Feet Under debuted, they were fairly unique upon themselves for doing just that. Certainly, the members of the band have changed along the way, but UNBORN simply continues the heritage Chris Barnes started with this band. In short, UNBORN is pretty much what we've all come to expect from Six Feet Under.
UNBORN is almost a microcosm of what Six Feet Under is. The songs are all around three minutes long. The music is decidedly metal that's closer in heaviness to a U.D.O. release than that of a Cannibal Corpse album. Listening to songs like "Zombie Blood Curse" as an example, you can easily hear this song with a high pitched wailer back in 1985 and nothing would sound out of place. That's always been the niche of Six Feet Under to me; they are a metal band with death metal vocals, and not a softer death metal band. The riffs provided by Torture Killer guitarist Jari Laine on this tune are straight out of a power metal band, and combined with the killer undertone on drums set by former Chimaira drummer Kevin Talley, this just works well. Talley, in fact, plays a huge role on UNBORN. He's easily the best drummer in the band's history, and his playing on songs like "Decapitate" enhances the songs without being so over the top that it becomes a repetitive collection of blast beats that plagues most of the bands of this genre.
Still though, a Six Feet Under album will always be about the vocal work of Barnes. For his part, UNBORN might be the most disciplined album Barnes has done vocally since leaving Cannibal Corpse. The last few albums have been plagued with Barnes thinking his high pitched squeals were somehow compelling. Apparently, someone finally told him they weren't. That feature is virtually gone on UNBORN, instead opting for a more dark, gurgling underbelly of aggressive vocals that simply highlight his death metal roots. Songs like "Incision" are literal barkers vocally, but that's what you want and expect from Barnes. On every level, this works here. Without question, this is the best vocal album from Barnes in the history of Six Feet Under.
PITRIFF RATING - 82/100 - Six Feet Under have had me locked in tightly since WARPATH, and with each passing release, they remind me that they are the preeminent band of the genre...at least in my eyes. Since they are classified as death metal, then they stand as my favorite death metal band. UNBORN is not the best thing in their career, but it's seriously compelling and a very solid listen. Recommended.