Released: 2005, Metal Blade
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Chris Barnes rattled the metal world earlier this year by prognosticating that 13 would be Six Feet Under’s REIGN IN BLOOD. Tempers flared, forums flamed and Barnes was forced to backpedal and explain that 13 would be considered Six Feet Under’s perfect album much like REIGN IN BLOOD has been attributed to Slayer. After listening to 13, Barnes’ prediction was not far off as this truly is the best piece of work of the band’s ten year career. Fans of HAUNTED, WARPATH and MAXIMUM VIOLENCE should stand up and take notice, as well, as Barnes & Co. have created an album that is their grooviest, heaviest and most consistent since those banner releases. I was initially dazzled by the last Six Feet Under release, BRINGER OF BLOOD, but 13 is infinitely superior to that album in many ways. Barnes is in top vocal form, Steve Swanson lays down some searing solos and a machete is needed to cut through the sludgy bottom end of Terry Butler and Greg Gall. Barnes’ own production ear has created the usual muddy sound to 13, but it really does suit Six Feet Under well, as the band’s style is hardly that which requires crystal clear tones. Still, imagine the fun a guy like Andy Sneap or Jacob Hansen could have with a Six Feet Under album??
“Decomposition of The Human Race” sets the pace of 13 with the band’s trademark death metal groove. In fact, this track may well be the grooviest SFU track ever! The band has always had a good stomp to its music but this track is really something extra. “Somewhere In The Darkness” hearkens back to the band’s early days with an underlying brutality and viciousness (that has not been seen since 1999’s MAXIMUM VIOLENCE) thanks to Swanson’s monster riffs and Barnes’ ominous vocals. “Rest In Pieces” (don’t miss the subtle nod to Cannibal Corpse in the lyric “Rest in pieces/In the grave you’re bleeding/Rest in pieces/In the tomb of the mutilated”), sees the groove angle taken a step forward, as Butler and Gall operate like a well-oiled machine. The solo that Swanson drops here, and later on “Wormfood,” dives like a bird that has been bludgeoned with a mallet. Not since 1995’s HAUNTED (with Obituary’s Allen West on guitar) has there been as many solos on a Six Feet Under album. Swanson’s really gets a chance to shine throughout the tracks as the soloing is taken to new levels and the band also seems to be shaking things up a little in the riff department, which after ten years is a welcome change. Barnes’ has been accused of being a one-note singer but on the title track, he silences his critics by not only coming at them with a higher-pitched scratchy roar but doing it well. “Shadow of The Reaper” is catchy as hell and should be a long-time addition to the band’s live set. Slowing things down to almost a painfully slow groove on “The Poison Hand,” the song plows along with an ultra-low bass line and one of Barnes patented gurgled vocal performances. For fans of Barnes’ voice, this track will have them tickled pink as the distorted vocals are inhumanly low and could be the lowest since THE BLEEDING back in his Cannibal Corpse days.
Up until the release of 13, new fans were told to get their feet wet with the grisly hat trick of HAUNTED, WARPATH and MAXIMUM VIOLENCE. While this ain’t no REIGN IN BLOOD, 13 certainly is among the strongest releases from Six Feet Under and showcases the band doing what they do best. Not a bad feat considering they are ten years into this crazy game called death metal, either.
KILLER KUTS: “Decomposition of The Human Race,” “Somewhere In The Darkness,” “Rest In Pieces,” “Shadow of The Reaper,” “The Poison Hand”