I didn’t expect I’d be hearing another Six Feet Under album so soon, since their last album, Undead was released less than a year ago. But I’m not complaining. Unborn marks the band’s 10th studio album in their 20 years of playing death metal, which I think is a huge accomplishment since many bands can’t even make it through their 3rd album without some hiatus or breakup. Yet here's Six Feet Under still going strong for over two decades. And lucky for fans, Six Feet Under usually provides the sound we want on every single one of their releases. But after 10 albums, can we still expect those same great things from Chris Barnes' and Co.?
At its very core, Unborn is still very much a Six Feet Under album; death metal that doesn’t rely on 300 BPMs to get its heaviness across. The whole album still grooves along with Barnes’ trademarked gutturals at the helm. The general tone of the album has that familiar feel of something trudging along in something quite dark and evil. I think what I love in SFU albums are those moments when they do get the urge to take a break from grooving and just blast a bit and shred on the guitars. It serves as a great contrast to the trudging, and makes their sound that much more interesting and fresh. “Decapitate” is a great example of a song that grooves at the start, yet masterfully transitions into awesome double-picking melodies and blast beats. And tracks like “Alive to Kill You” demonstrates the more conventional death metal practices of the band as well.
It’s worth mentioning that a couple of the tracks on this album might sound a little different to loyal listeners. For instance, when I first heard the track, “Neuro Osmosis”, I couldn’t help feeling reminded of a common deathcore dirge-like song. I know SFU can dirge, but this definitely had a distinctive deathcore feel to it. And wouldn’t you know it, Ben Savage from Whitechapel is a guest guitarist on “Neuro Osmosis” and some other tracks on Unborn as well. Other guest guitarists include Jari Laine from Torture Killer and even Rob Arnold, formerly of Chimaira AND even SFU (although I imagine this is probably attributed to writing he did while he was still in the band about a year ago). I feel like each of their influences can be heard on each of the tracks they contributed on. But I think it all works pretty well together. It doesn't quite hit it out of the park, but still works well. The areas that could remind people of deathcore might put off the die-hard SFU, but even these moments pass pretty quickly.
Overall, Unborn is another solid release by Six Feet Under. I don't think it ends up being one of their greatest albums, but it’s memorable for more reasons than the milestone of it being the 10th album. I think having the guest musicians gave Unborn just that bit of contrast it needed to make this album standout from their others. Unborn is still definitely Six Feet Under, and that’s all you can expect and hope for in a 20 year old death metal band.