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A good start for the band, but not their best - 61%

12disneyhater, May 27th, 2015

Six Feet Under are probably the most polarizing band in death metal. You either love them for their uniquely groovy, catchy, mid-tempo approach to the genre, or despise them for their "watered-down" sound and simplistic compositions, combined with Chris Barnes' obviously aged voice. As for me, I am most definitely in the former category; in fact, SFU are tied with two other bands (Kataklysm and Unleashed) as my favorite death metal band, at least regarding the surviving veterans of the genre. But even if you don't like them, it seems that "Haunted" is the one SFU album that's okay to like. But personally, I think it's one of their lesser releases.

Right when the first riff of the first song opens, you'll notice that the guitar work bares an uncanny resemblance to Obituary. Unsurprising since that band's then-guitarist Allen West played on the first two SFU releases, but you can't help but expect John Tardy to start singing rather than Chris Barnes. It's pretty clear that at the time, the group were still trying to find their identity somewhat. As far as songwriting goes, there's really not a whole lot to say. It's groove-based, mid-to-slow paced death metal that is done very well, but lacks originality. Some interesting ideas do pop up from time to time, however, such as the Fear Factory-esque drum pattern in "Lycanthropy".

Vocally, Chris sounds very similar to the way he did on Cannibal Corpse's "The Bleeding" album, and sounds arguably the best he has in SFU's career. For the most part, you can understand what he's saying, and his voice hadn't quite started to sound as hoarse and aged as it would in his later career. Lyrically, the album is typical Barnes material, but the violence and gore is noticeably toned down from his work with Cannibal Corpse. But the lyrics compliment the music as well as possible, further emphasizing the album's solid craftsmanship.

Unfortunately, things kind of drag despite the cool riffs and well-done vocal work. Even compared to most of SFU's later albums, the pace is quite sluggish and kind of takes away from the brutality, so those expecting a fast-paced album need to look somewhere else for their dose of death metal. But for a debut album, "Haunted" definitely gets the job done, and hints at good things to come later in the band's very large discography. It's not hard to see why even SFU's detractors enjoy this album, but at the same time, I feel as though if they bothered with any of their other releases that they'd find one they like more.