Released: 2015, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
At this point in the game, you pretty much know what to expect from a new Six Feet Under record; mid-tempo, rhythm heavy death metal songs about murder that will either sound tired, inspired, or somewhere in between. Kind of like Cannibal Corpse’s caveman cousin, if you will. CRYPT OF THE DEVIL has the dubious distinction of following up not one, but TWO surprisingly competent SFU albums, and while it’s far from the worst you’ve heard from the band, it teeters between being almost as good and a full frontal creative back step.
After churning through both The Haunted’s Ola Englund and Chimaira’s Rob Arnold, Barnes has found a new musical soulmate in the form of Cannabis Corpse’s Phil Hall. Y’know, because they both play in metal bands…and smoke lots of pot. Looking as far as the room his was in, Barnes rounded out the band’s recording lineup with Hall’s brother on drums and fellow Cannabis Corpse shredder Brandon Ellis on lead guitar. And while Barnes has assembled a technically proficient lineup, Hall’s songwriting chops don’t hold up against his predecessors. Either that, or he was intentionally writing for an audience in 1995 that didn’t know any better.
Moments like the opening “Gruesome”, “Open Coffin Orgy” and “Stab” are typical SFU fodder, but have enough character or sonic diversity to stand out amongst the pack. And then moments like “Compulsion to Brutalize”, “Slit Wrists”, and “Broken Bottle Rape” (somewhere between “Fucked With a Knife” and “Force Fed Broken Glass”?) tread the most familiar of familiarly mediocre stomping grounds, while everything in between sits idly in the middle. So basically, a third is really good, a third is pretty “meh”, and another third is in between “really good” and “pretty meh”. Even though he’s only on board to drop in the occasional tasty lick, major props go out to Brandon Ellis. He doesn’t get nearly the attention he deserves on this record, but it’s his sporadic six string indulgences that carry the weight against the blunt rhythms on tracks like “Eternal Darkness” and “The Night Bleeds”.
To summarize – new year, new Six Feet Under record. Regardless of anything I write or its actual merits, CRYPT OF THE DEVIL will sell more copies than any number of more deserving bands, because Chris Barnes is "Chris Barnes". UNDEAD and UNBORN offered hope of a long overdue maturity that Six Feet Under might’ve finally been ascending to. CRYPT OF THE DEVIL says, “nah, brah. brootal.” Caveat Emptor.