True Carnage

Six Feet Under

Metal Blade Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Six Feet Under's lead vocalist Chris Barnes is undeniably a legend in the field of death metal. The original lead throat of Cannibal Corpse, he's logged enough time in this genre to know what works - and what's getting stale. As impressed as I've been with the two discs I've heard from Six Feet Under (and I have a few of their earlier works to get to), Barnes had to have been thinking that the whole death metal scene needed some type of change. It's one thing to try and play a million notes per second; it's another to actually create some melodies that listeners will remember along with the brutal lyrics.

Thus, we are given True Carnage, the latest offering from Six Feet Under. It takes a while to understand what Barnes and crew are trying to accomplish in the 34 minutes this disc takes up - but one has to take their hat off to Six Feet Under for daring to slow down death metal... to a point.

While there are occasional fast moments from the guitar of Steve Swanson, the bass of Terry Butler and the drum kit of Greg Gall, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 True Carnage shows the actual power is not in the speed of the music (or even necessarily the lyrics), but in the delivery of the song. If the song isn't well-written, no amount of tempo is going to save the patient. Fortunately for fans of this genre, Six Feet Under know how to deliver the goods, and they do so consistently.

Tracks like "Impulse To Disembowel," "It Never Dies" and "Snakes" (the latter possibly the only weak moment on the disc) allow the band to set their own pace for the musical delivery, and while it throws off one's equilibrium for a moment (after all, this is death metal, and we're used to being thrown back in our seats from the speed), the more controlled delivery works much better.

This isn't to say that Six Feet Under has turned their backs on the use of speed - but now, it's more part of the delivery than the hook. "The Day The Dead Walked" uses speed to a point; it never becomes absolutely break-neck, but allows the adrenalin to build in the listener before it moves into a somewhat slower, more controlled beat for the chorus. It's taking a chance by not fully playing according to death metal's rules - but Barnes is such a powerhouse in the field that he's allowed more than a little slack to experiment.

"Experiment" is the only thing, though, that a tandeming with rapper Ice-T on "One Bullet Left" can be called. No one is saying that Ice-T can't handle metal; three albums with Body Count proved that he knew the style well. But Ice-T just doesn't sound like he fits with the death metal scene - besides the obvious fact that one can understand everything he's saying, while Barnes occasionally sounds like a braying goat (especially on "Knife, Gun, Axe"). The duet with Karyn Crisis on "Sick And Twisted" works better, though.

I doubt that those with sensitive stomachs would even make it past the cover art on True Carnage, but this disc does come with a music video for "The Day The Dead Walked," which might freak out some people, unless you've been raised on a diet of horror movies. (As for me - hell, I survived The Great Kat's music video for "Castration," so I think I can stomach almost anything.)

True Carnage is a disc which demonstrates that Six Feet Under don't merely want to follow the same paths they, along with other death metal bands, have trod over the years. They want to show there's more to the scene than fast playing and guttural growls. Well, one out of two ain't bad in this case - but the disc represents another success for a band who constantly prove they deserve the accolades that come their way.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.