Six Feet Under
Six Feet Chimaira arrives with their first effort featuring more than half of at least one of the Chimaira touring lineups (drummer Kevin Talley and guitarist Rob Arnold). In all seriousness, this is definitely still Six Feet Under, but with the biggest single upgrade in musicianship any band of this ilk has ever seen. Personally, I couldn't be more happy for Arnold. Having spent time just hanging out and talking death metal with Arnold on several occasions, I know first hand how much he respected Six Feet Under and Chris Barnes, so joining this band to him had to be the equivalent of winning the lottery.
As far as the new album UNDEAD goes, what exactly were you expecting? Something that sounded like Chimaira, but with a much more sinister barking vocal? Nah, not happened in Chris Barnes' band. While the guitar work is infinitely better and the drumming is much more stylish and intricate than any other effort in the band's catalog, UNDEAD is still a Six Feet Under effort that's driven home by the signature grunting of death metal legend Chris Barnes. That's not to say that Arnold's sound doesn't make a big impression though. It does. His riffs and fills on songs like "18 Days" could very well have first emerged on his previous band's INFECTION album without anyone thinking they were out of place. In fact, there are several points on UNDEAD where the music takes a decidedly more modern extreme metal slant from time to time. That said, it's always brought back to the center where Barnes snarls and rants about every unmentionable act his sick mind can come up with. Thankfully, Barnes stays at a level of inaudible where I don't have to translate what he's saying. I'd imagine that I really don't want to know exactly what's being described on songs like "Molest Dead" and "Delayed Combustion Device".
Obviously, I respect Barnes' career even if I'm not a fan of it. That said though, UNDEAD is by far the most musical effort the band has done since WARPATH. Talley is one of the single best drummers in the world, and you have no way to not recognize that here. His speed and ability to completely change pacing in the middle of a movement, like he does on "Blood On My Hands", is simply amazing to hear. He teams beautifully with ex Chimaira guitarist turned bassist Matt Devries throughout, thickening the bottom half on songs like the punishing "Near Death Experience".
PITRIFF RATING - 86/100 - Six Feet Under is a band that, to me, has long been the definition of what I want to hear from a death metal band (with the exception of the vocals). Barnes' voice will never hit home with me, but musically UNDEAD is powerful, musical and yet distinctly death metal. This is a solid effort here.