Six Feet Under – Crypt of the Devil (Metal Blade)Tuesday, 21st April 2015
In the pre-internet days, to gain metal credibility you needed to prove yourself on a tape trading, flyering, letter writing and live show DIY basis. That’s how vocalist Chris Barnes during his Cannibal Corpse years got the interest of Metal Blade and became one of America’s early death metal success stories. Since leaving that act following their fourth studio album The Bleeding, his work in Six Feet Under has been spotty at best (name one studio record that outshines any Corpsegrinder-led CC) and a laugh riot at its worst (ever check out any of the three Graveyard Classics cover/tribute records?).
Crypt of the Devil is the 11th and newest SFU studio record – slamming another 10 mid-tempo to slightly faster death/groove tracks our way. Guitarist Steve Swanson has an occasional glimmer of sophistication and tastefulness during the 0:46-1:17 lead passage of “The Night Bleeds” – but the stutter-step main riff and subsequent repetitive rhythmic word delivery that appears in tandem to the music from Barnes ruins any momentum and just feels like you are watching two trains rolling off a cliff. When you have titles like “Open Coffin Orgy” and “Slit Wrists” to take in, it’s not rocket science to know that the lyrical ideas haven’t changed much in the band’s 22 years of existence. The latest rhythm section of bassist Jeff Hughell and drummer Marco Pitruzzella are capable enough to keep up with all the subtle stop/start elements, occasional blast bursts, and locking into the groove – providing satisfactory work for “Gruesome” and “Break the Cross in Half”.
If the plodding nature of the predictable riffing and hooks from the music side isn’t bad enough, then you need to take in Chris Barnes mumbled gargling from the grave. On “Lost Remains”, there are sections where it appears he uses pitch bending to exaggerate certain growls – as well as a crazy series of cackles that are inhuman and insanely funny. His delivery doesn’t help distinguish one cut to the next – and that’s a serious problem on a 36 minute record.
Quality control should be exercised by the powers that be – just because someone established a reputation in their youth doesn’t mean they should continue to gain unfettered public access to record and release whatever creative ideas burst forth. Six Feet Under needs a burial ground deeper so this toxic waste can never bubble again to the earth’s surface.