Six Feet Under – Nightmares of the Decomposed (Metal Blade)Monday, 5th October 2020
Certain acts come with preconceived notions, especially if you’ve had the chance to sample a large portion of their discography. Such is the case with Six Feet Under – originally a side project of ex-Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes that turned into his main entity when he left CC. There have been many lineup changes over the course of the band’s 27 years – and with the 13th studio record Nightmares of the Decomposed there is a mini-Cannibal reunion of sorts with guitarist Jack Owen coming into the fold. And despite Jack’s obvious songwriting and performance skills within this death ‘n roll/groove framework, the twelve songs garner little momentum due to the lackluster grunts, growls, and pig squeals from Chris that render these tracks stalled into a cavernous ditch.
On a musical front, there are many standout moments where the guitar playing shines and the backing band delivers complimentary death/groove tempos that would get even the novice metalheads moving. Check out the exemplary lead and main riffing for “The Rotting” or the Sabbath-esque bass/mid-tempo guitar chugging throughout “Self Imposed Death Sentence” and you’d be hard pressed not to be drenched in head bobbing maneuvers dripping in beads of sweat. There’s no shortage of solid playing mechanics present and obvious combinations where these musicians can sharpen their edges in a dynamic way (the semi-dotted notes into a playful main riff for “Blood of the Zombie” as one example), but once Chris opens his voice, the man just feels like he’s going through the motions in his main, stunted, gruff delivery. And when he chooses to execute those wild high pitch pig squeals (present right out of the gate on the first two singles “Amputator” and “Zodiac”), many will struggle to hold back the belly-induced laughter that ensues.
Nightmares of the Decomposed may appeal to some Six Feet Under maniacs, but most casual groove/death and roll followers will steer clear of this and choose much more vital, younger acts to get their fix from.