Chris Barnes pretty much had his new band under way by the time he left Cannibal Corpse. Metalheads from around the globe had their attention on Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under in 1995. Cannibal Corpse had to release an album to prove that they could go on without the mastermind Chris Barnes behind them; and Chris had to prove that Cannibal Corpse wasn’t just a fluke. In my opinion, Six Feet Under won that battle in 1995 with the release of Haunted. Vile is definitely Cannibal Corpse’s weakest album because they were still getting their grips on things due to being so used to having Barnes practically run the whole band and writing process. After that year, Cannibal Corpse went uphill and Six Feet Under leveled out for a bit to then go downhill with their third album/disaster.
Ever since then, Six Feet Under has released more disasters (that they call albums) than any other death metal band in history. Six Feet Under is responsible for producing some of the worst death metal songs of all time like “Snakes”, “Dead and Buried”, “Deathklaat”, and “One Bullet Left”. Although this is true in the minds of thousands of metalheads worldwide, there is quite a large group of people that have stayed loyal and actually legitimately love Six Feet Under’s post-Maximum Violence albums. For those of you that don’t believe that there are so many people that have been turned away by this band’s later albums, take a look at the other reviews on the net, and go see Six Feet Under in concert because the only CDs they have on sale are their first two (which are really good albums). And here comes 2008, right when I really start getting into death metal and the extreme music world, when Death Rituals is released. This was my first Six Feet Under record.
Honestly, this record is a huge comeback. This is the best album they’ve released in over 10 years. Even though there are quite a few faults contained in this album, it’s a really enjoyable listen that was good enough for me to pitch in some money to buy a physical copy. Just so that this review doesn’t seem completely negative, I’m going to talk about the good stuff first.
Chris Barnes is, hands down, one of the best death metal producers I’ve ever heard. The first time he completely produced an album, it was Commandment, the disasterpiece previous to Death Rituals. The entire production and sound quality that this album holds has everything that makes me happy. The volume of the instruments is perfectly balanced, very clean but crunchy guitar distortion, lots of deep booming bass, and everything is very crisp and clear. If the sound quality of this album wasn’t as good as it is, I probably wouldn’t enjoy listening to it as much.
The music behind most of the songs is outstanding. The band does a perfect job of keeping the listener engaged and happy. The majority of what the band does is pretty simple; but remember, that’s NEVER a bad thing. I never believe that a band’s music has to be technical and complex in order to be interesting. The only times that simple music can be irritating is when it’s repetitive or when the riff is uninteresting. Six Feet Under keeps the album interesting from beginning to end. There isn’t really anything special I have to say about any particular musician because none of them speak out to me as being better than average.
And I’m pretty sure that if you have gotten this far in my review that you’re waiting for me to talk about Barnes. My personal opinion is that Chris Barnes has one of the best death growls of all-time. You may not realize it, but Barnes is primarily the one credited for traditionalizing the deep, guttural death growl that we think of whenever we are asked to describe what it sounds like to someone who doesn’t know. He has one of the deepest growls that send chills down the spines of the weak-hearted; that perfectly fits the Catholic description of what a true demon sounds like. There’s one thing that he does that is absolutely repulsive and makes me laugh every time I hear it. It’s not something I’m going to even attempt to describe, but you can hear it in about 40% of all of Six Feet Under’s repertoire. The songs on Death Rituals that have this disgusting sound are Involuntary Movement of Dead Flesh, Seed of Filth, None will Escape, and Into the Crematorium (there are probably a few others I forgot about but this will get you an idea).
My favorite song off the album is Death by Machete. This is a perfect example of a traditional death metal band throwing in some extra stuff to spice up the sound, but still sticking to a pure death metal sound. I always show this song to people that hate this band and it almost always causes them to gain some respect for Six Feet Under. There’s one example of a major lack in creativity and that is this: listen to Death by Machete, then listen to Into the Crematorium and tell me, what does it sound almost exactly like?
Shot in the Head is another favorite of mine. Every good death metal album has at least one good headbanging track. This is Death Ritual’s headbanging track that can put a smile on anybody’s face. A little piece of trivia for those of you that want to know is that the voice on the telephone in the intro is Chris Barnes. The third song that I never turn down is the last song, Murder Addiction. Death metal in its absolute PUREST form is displayed by this song. For those of you that are looking for something PURE, this is the album for you. Even though this album has many downsides, the “upsides” make up for them…for the most part. This album earns my score of 16/20.