Six Feet Under have a mixed reputation, at best. The band’s brand of slow paced, stripped down death metal is derided by some as being too simple and boring (especially when compared to other bands playing the same style that simply do a much better job of it), and Six Feet Under’s recurring fascination with releasing multiple cover albums usually elicits howls of laughter and derision.
I’ll go along and agree with the idea that releasing such albums is silly, but I’ll also defend Six Feet Under’s simplistic approach to death metal as there’s a certain amount of catchiness and charm to the band.
Admittedly, Six Feet Under’s original output is spotty. Some of their albums, such as their second album, 1997’s Warpath and, in particular, the one two punch of 2012’s Undead and 2013’s Unborn are quite good with the latter two probably being their best albums.
Since Unborn, however, Six Feet Under have released two more albums, 2015’s Crypt Of The Devil and yet another cover album. I won’t go near the covers, frankly, but Crypt Of The Devil was a letdown as Six Feet Under lapsed back into “boring” territory.
With all that in mind, Six Feet Under release yet another studio album, Torment. Immediately, Torment is easily recognizable as Six Feet Under as not much changes about the band’s approach. This is as meat and potatoes as death metal can be with crunchy riffs, barks from Chris Barnes (one of death metal’s more colorful characters), occasional upticks in tempo, and with simple songs. Strangely enough, some variety in the songwriting appears with songs such as “Slaughtered As They Slept,” but, not to worry, soon enough, it’s back to basics with songs such as “Bloody Underwear.”
But, Six Feet Under also noticeably ramp up the speed a bit more on Torment, resulting in a few scorchers that work quite well within the confines of the music. Some of it is quite catchy, such as “Exploratory Homicide,” but other songs fall flat, such as the follow up “The Separation Of Flesh And Bone” with comical grunts from Barnes.
Torment doesn’t rival Warpath, Undead, and Unborn for positioning at the top of Six Feet Under’s discography, but it’s not in the basement, either (cover albums notwithstanding). Basically, people’s opinions of Six Feet Under won’t change with Torment; fans will like the album, detractors won’t.
(released February 24, 2017 on Metal Blade Records)