|Title: True Carnage
Artist: Six Feet Under
Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: 8/7/01
|Judgment Committee Reviews||Rating|
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Everybody's got an opinion about Six Feet Under. Some consider them the greatest death metal act of all time, and some consider them the biggest of sellouts. Well, they are both wrong. Six Feet Under are what they are: a groove-oriented death metal act that are certainly not nearly as raw as they used to be, but to call them a sellout is just plain dumb.
"A groove-oriented death metal act that are certainly not nearly as raw as they used to be, but to call them a sellout is just plain dumb."
These guys are metal through and through, and while they are by no means my favorite band, in fact they have some obvious weaknesses, I definitely consider myself a fan. Criticisms of this band range from Chris Barnes' death-warmed-over vocal attack that made you either love or hate Warpath, to the repetitive riffs that had people referring to it as the Metallica's Black Album of death metal. (Original accusations of vocal sell-out have plagued Barnes since C. Corpse's The Bleeding.) and while those observations have merit, I still like this band and I enjoy what they've morphed into. Granted the press release sent to the media that states that Six Feet Under are the most brutal metal band out there make me chuckle, but I've continuously enjoyed this band's material, and this, their latest offering, is no exception.
True Carnage picks up pretty much right where Maximum Violence left off. Neither album is nearly as one riff driven as Warpath, and there seems an attempt here to branch out a little bit. There are a few more riffs per song, but the formula remains the same. So the bottom line is that if you liked the recent albums, you should be more than happy with this one. Tracks of note include: "One Bullet Left" with guest Ice-T. This is a cool little ditty, and if you have to mix rap and metal, there's pretty much no one you'd rather have than Mr. T, I mean Ice-T. While the rapper's first rant comes off sounding a little silly due to his overuse of the words "mother" and "fucker", he eventually settles into a groove that reminds me of the better tracks off of the Judgment Night soundtrack. Another cool guest is Karyn Crisis. It's not often we see male-female duets in death metal, and "Sick and Twisted" may be the strongest track on the disc. They're cute together, and they sound so good together, I'd have to call it romansick. Definitely worth your time unless you've already decided that you hate this band.
"Definitely worth your time unless you've already decided that you hate this band."
The new record from Six Feet Under came out last week, and, while it didn't crack the Billboard 200, it did show up as number 18 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart for developing artists. Quite respectable. Six Feet Under and frontman Chris Barnes (ex-Cannibal Corpse) have more than their share of detractors. But they still get attention (like the stint on the 2000 Warped Tour) and, apparently, have more than enough fans to actually make a bit of a commercial dent. Very cool.
"It makes my head bob, and often, that's what's truly important."
The Six Feet Under concept is quite simple: slow, heavy, groove-oriented American death metal with mic-swallowing Chirs Barnes vokills and simple, repetitive song structures which end up sounding like the AC/DC of death metal. Critics complain of the "dumbing down of death metal," like Metallica did to thrash with the Black Album. I kinda like the emphasis on groove, and the slower pace. So I'm not saying these guys are technical geniuses or that they are making important music. But I am saying that it makes my head bob, and often, that's what's truly important.
True Carnage stays true to the expectations. If you've liked Six Feet Under in the past, you'll like this album. Yes, Ice-T sings on "One Bullet Left," but, unlike all of the wanna-be nu-metal white boy rappers plaguing our existence, Ice-T is old school and raps west-coast style, with hatred, anger and aggression, the way it was meant to be. And let's face it: there's no melody to Chris Barnes' vocals, it's all rythmic anyway. So fuck it: I like the track and applaud Ice-T's performance. True Carnage also marks the resurfacing of the inimitable Karyn Crisis, who also lends vocals to another track. But the record is about more than just guest appearances. Opener "Impulse to Disembowel," for example, is violently slow and heavy, and is one of my favorite Six Feet Under tracks.
"True Carnage stays true to the expectations. If you've liked Six Feet Under in the past, you'll like this album."
In the end, if you hate SFU, this record is not going to make you a convert. But if you're down, buy the record. It's a lot of fun and is probably just what you expected.
Favorite tracks: "Sick and Twisted", "One Bullet Left"
Here's the deal - there are two vocalists in the world that I would instantly buy a metal album just based on the fact that they contributed to it, and Chris Barnes has managed to recruit them BOTH!!! Yes, you've got it - Karyn Crisis and Ice-T. Hey, I heard that - you said, "Ice-T?!?" and I have two, no, make that three, words for you: fucking Body Count! It doesn't matter what anyone says, to me, there's an inexorable link between metal and hardcore gansta rap, and Ice-T is one of the most metal people on the planet, period. Karyn Crisis is another of the most metal people on the planet, period.
Beyond those two songs, which we will revisit momentarily, the rest of the album sounds pretty much like you thought it would. Six Feet Under, in my opinion, has a predominately slow, groovy pace that drives all of their songs, regardless of the actual tempo. It has more to do with feel or vibe than tempo, and you know by now what I mean, and if not, I'm sorry, I just don't know how to explain it any better than that.
"Ice-T is one of the most metal people on the planet, period. Karyn Crisis is another of the most metal people on the planet, period."
The combination of this menacing pace and Barnes' equally menacing, lower-than-most-men-can-speak growl creates an unusually accessible form of death metal, which, if I may take the liberty of creating yet another increasingly constricted sub-genre, we will call doom-death, for the purposes of our conversation. Doom-death is where the heroic, prolific, pot smoking of Barnes (and presumably the rest of the band) meets their death metal sensibilities to create something that belongs to neither. Regardless of whether or not you like it, I believe it is fair to say that you'd have to agree - they do it better than anyone else.
However, I think that it would wear thin if it were not for the inclusion of the two guest-spots. These two songs serve not only to break up the record, but more importantly, preserve the personalities of the individual artists involved while still being Six Feet Under songs. The balance struck, in both cases, in admirable and remarkable. Furthermore, it shows that, when challenged, these stoners can really push the envelope.
"One Bullet Left" starts out basically like any other Six Feet Under song (grammatically, wouldn't that be Six Foot Under?), and remains so for almost for a minute and a half, then comes the Ice-T part. This is the most in-your-face-moment on the album, and I bet that were Ice-T in your face yelling right at you like that, you'd be pooing in your trousers. I love it.
"Karyn and Chris circling each other, microphones in hand, screaming, dreads flying So metal, so cool."
"Sick and Twisted" is just simply the most metal duet ever. The perfect death duet, if you will. Crisis fans should recognize the imagery, though it does fit in seamlessly with the favored Six Feet Under imagery. The harmony is amazing, and I can't help the image from forming in my mind's eye: Karyn and Chris circling each other, microphones in hand, screaming, dreads flying So metal, so cool.
All in all, I'm loving this record. I can't bring myself to pull out the coveted 5th skull, though it is probably a matter of timing in this case. Perhaps if I'd had another week with it, I would have felt differently, but conjecture like this gets us nowhere. If you're wondering whether to buy it - the answer is YES! Yes, you have to hear this song with Karyn Crisis! \m/
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