Six Feet Under | Killing for Revenge (Metal Blade Records)

Photo of Chris Barnes and Jack Owen of Six Feet Under by Stephanie Cabral and Dark Photography

It is no secret that Six Feet Under’s previous album, 2020’s Nightmares of the Decomposed, was released to less than favorable reviews. Ok, let’s be really honest: it was released to some of the worst reviews of all time. A quick search in the ol’ Google machine will tell you most of what you need to know regarding the band’s previous work. Six Feet Under’s most recent offering however, Killing for Revenge, is a full stop course correction: a near perfect showcase of how to blend a band’s sound of old with new.

A press release sent out with the album spoke to the involvement of Jack Owen (founding guitarist in Cannibal Corpse, a former member of Deicide, and part of Six Feet Under since 2017) in songwriting on this album, so much so that one can easily call this album Jack Owen’s baby. Longtime death metal fans can easily point to albums in both Cannibal Corpse and Deicide’s catalogs where Owen’s influences are undeniable. Chris Barnes mentioned in the press release how Mr. Owen brought a ton to the table for song ideas (including lyrics with scratch takes) and contributed his signature death metal vocals in the way only he can.

Clocking in at over 47 minutes, 12 originals, and 1 cover, there is lot of material to digest here so let’s get into it.

The first track and single off the album, “No Nothing Ingrate” clocks in quick at under two-and-a-half minutes, and it is significantly more aggressive out of the gate then some of the band’s previous works. Singer Chris Barnes’ voice is much more commanding, deliberate, and focused this go-around. One can’t help but get the hook of this song stuck in their head immediately after the first listen.

Track two “Accomplice to Evil Deeds” also features a great hook delivered by Barnes and Co. in the main chorus. Speaking of “and Co.” (that being lead guitarist Ray Suhy, bassist Jeff Hughell, and drummer Marco Pitruzzella), they sound fantastic. The drums sit extremely well with the stringed instruments in the mix. Hats off to Chaz Najjar at Badlands Recording located in Denver, CO for a great mix.

“Ascension” is a notably longer track then the previous two, but it once again never allows the listener to take their foot off of the gas. In fact, it throws a brick on it and kicks the band into an even higher, faster gear, blast beats and all, without ever letting up. Showcasing some fantastic lead work in the bridge, this is a pure death metal song.

The cover to Six Feet Under’s Killing for Revenge by Vince Locke

One could also point to “When the Moon Goes Down in Blood” as another great example of a death metal song. On this track however, while the speed is let up a bit, the aggression is expressed in a different manner in the form of dissonance. The shuffling between tremolo picked notes and palm muted triplets with the shuffle time equals a recipe for tremendous death metal success.

Both tracks 5 and 6 (“Hostility Against Makind” and “Compulsive,” respectively) harken back to the classic/traditional Six Feet Under sound: groove-driven death metal with the fierce, over-the-top delivery of vocals Barnes brings. “Hostility…” really brings the grooves and only gets groovier as the track progresses while “Compulsive” hits the same only with more thrash/death-style tempos. The following song “Fit of Carange” follows in the same vein sonically, but with a very distinct early death-thrash style while style retaining Six Feet Under’s essence.

“Neanderthal” is a real highlight on this album. Longtime Six Feet Under fans will relish in what is quite possibly the closest the band has come to being doom metal. This track would easily fit right into any Candlemass album, but yet at the same time is a definitive Six Feet Under classic. Barnes’ vocals really set the tone for this song along with a plodding bridge that keeps the listener fully engaged while trodding along at a snail’s pace.

As for the next three songs (“Judgement Day, “Bestial Savagery”, and “Mass Casualty Murdercide”), they all three bring a Slayer/Sepultura/Exodus-type thrash element mixed with Six Feet Under’s brand. It is pure death metal/thrash through and through. This is not technical by any means, unless one qualifies a certain tempo as being technical. This is straight ahead, brutal, savage, death metal.

The final original song “Spoils of War” wraps up the album perfectly once again having that classic Six Feet Under mid-tempo death groove to match Barnes’ brutality. This album is very much a “take it or leave it,” as with all death metal. The music is not for everyone, and the fans do not mind it. That being said, real fans of the genre will definitely be pleasantly surprised by the return of Chris and Co. The album cover by Vince Locke is worth it alone to display for your friends and family at the next gathering. Your Uncle Howdy will be excited for you to play the “Hair of the Dog” cover, and you should most graciously oblige him. | Chad Killion

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