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Six Feet Under: Crypt of the Devil

Regular readers to this site know by now that when a new Six Feet Under album shows up, I drop everything. From crushing groove filled Death Metal to covering AC/DC, for better or worse, Chris Barnes and company have always been up there in my all time favorite Metal bands. I purposely avoid checking out any new songs unleashed leading up to the full-length, just so I can hear everything in context from the start and make that first spin through a clean experience. So, if you can’t tell from this build up, I threw in their new album Crypt of the Devil, and have a few things to say before I get the review close to the album’s actual release date.

Now, I’ve been listening to this for the past few days and, well, it’s kind of different. Crypt of the Devil isn’t that extreme a change from the groove heavy foundations of previous outings, but there’s an obvious shift in attitude and direction this time around. Six Feet Under decided to go a bit more on the technical side at times, and even have some fun with the lyrics. Think a toned down Atheist with early Autopsy or Chaosbreed style writing.

Yes, Six Feet Under has remained a pretty gritty b-grade Horror themed outfit, but this one definitely takes it to a much more obvious level, one determined to have fun more often than constantly be over-the-top. I mean, “Open Coffin Orgy” is a pretty basic circa-Shitfun style dirty Death Metal bomb that clearly isn’t meant to be taken serious in the slightest as far as the track’s concept goes. The best way to sum this track up is to think Haeckle’s Tale from the Masters of Horror series, or even the movie Nekromantik with a chorus that repeats the song’s title over some decent deeper tuned grooves.

While it does have some overly basic moments, there are some segments that are really more like chaotic spurts of precision out of nowhere, landing mostly in certain passages or bridges. “Gruesome” really hammers this point home with the bouts of excessive bass twang driven madness. Sometimes it can even sound like the band is trying to achieve some Neoclassical elements like Vital Remains, though just doesn’t get there. Like the aforementioned complexities, these are kind of few and far between, though the intensity works out better than the standard Six Feet Under fare.

Sadly, “standard” is about the right word. Don’t get me wrong, Crypt of the Devil doesn’t seem to be that bad a release overall, If anything it mostly struggles to get going out of the gate. I wasn’t at all impressed with the first handful of songs. It wasn’t until “Lost Remains” that the material started to pick up some bite that seemed to vary through the rest of the performances. That track in particular is a pretty good though. It’s paced well enough with a good guitar solo and well executed thicker riffs and layering, all closing on a bulky-yet-blunt scale.

But, really, that’s sort of the pattern to many tracks here. Start with a fairly basic introduction, keep that alive through the main verses and chorus, and during the last third of the song either play on with richer material, or start layering it in. Even the aforementioned “Open Coffin Orgy” kind of travels this path. “Stab” does change things up a bit by keeping that speed of “Gruesom” and “Lost Remains” active, and substituting the richer material for a slam that briefly moves into Doom Metal territory with the guitar solo being a decent distance away from when the speed picks back up afterwards.

While I’m not quite digging Crypt of the Devil as a whole, there are some good tracks littered about that I’ll admit to cranking the volume of my speakers up to when they hit, but aren’t really strong enough to make me want to seek them out unless in the mood to randomly throw this album in again. Six Feet Under seem to be trying a few new things that make wonder if this is actually more a transitional release, if not a litmus test to see how a more chaotic direction would be received. Either way, I’ll keep kicking this one around and tackle it with more of a critical eye as the release date nears. Who knows, maybe it’s more of a grower than a shower. But, at this time, speaking as a fan and not as my critical, objective self, Crypt of the Devil just doesn’t come off a suiting follow up to Unborn or Undead, a statement I hope will change over time

Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under

Digital review material for this article provided by Metal Blade Records
via Earsplit PR.

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