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A Middle of the Road Haunting - 63%

JamesIII, February 13th, 2010

A band like Six Feet Under is one of those that garners alot of animosity from metal fans, yet at the same time deserves most of the negativity. Gathering from an obviously limited idea base, Six Feet Under is a band that continues to release albums in the same vein over and over, with little if any promise of delivering anything worthwhile to average death metal fan. Ironically enough, its the band's debut in "Haunted" (which was originally just going to be a one time side project for Chris Barnes and Allen West) turns out to be the band's best effort in terms of anything remotely interesting.

The cover art says it all concerning "Haunted", its a slightly interesting piece that ultimately fails to go anywhere and ends up disappointing instead of enthralling. At the same time, the cover art was borrowed from a 1990 movie artwork, which compares to SFU's borrowing ideas from Cannibal Corpse and Obituary, which is something virtually every reviewer here has already stated. Yet instead of funneling whatever magic comes from either of those bands, we instead get plodding groove. This style of metal was popular in the U.S. at the time, with heads Machine Head and Pantera leading the way. Yet "Haunted" is largely devoid of what made both of those somewhat interesting to listen to on occasion. The riffs groove decently enough, but ultimately go nowhere in a pretty big hurry, effectively grinding those repetitive riffs into dust.

The songs themselves are not particularly exciting, though this actually puts them above mind-numbingly terrible so it comes out better than most of this band's recorded output. I will give the band some credit in that they avoided one of the biggest flaws plaguing American groove metal bands of the time, in that they side stepped carrying on for five or even six minutes at a time, riding the same riffs over and over. Instead, most of these songs are around 3 minutes apiece, with a few exceptions. One of the few that exceeds four minutes is "Lycanthropy," a song that isn't necessarily great but remarkably doesn't manage to end up sucking despite an excessive length compared to its pool of ideas. "Beneath the Black Sky" and "Human Target" are two additional numbers that work rather well, though neither build up to anything exceptional. This is the unfortunate story considering "Haunted," in that it listens decently rather than listening well and fails to implement its ideas in a sustainable fashion and instead plods off into forgettable groove.

As with most things Six Feet Under, there isn't much else to say. The musicians here are obviously talented given their respective bands but none of that manifests itself here. "Haunted" isn't completely terrible like some later efforts that I've had the misfortune of hearing, but it isn't that good either. Its mostly middle of the road groove death metal with some elements of a muddy guitar tone that give it a "sludge" metal feel (though don't mistake that comparison for something like Crowbar.) I recieved this little album as a gift from a friend several years ago, so I didn't bear the pain of parting with actual money to hear this. For those of you looking to get into this band (and why you would, I'll never know) this is as good of place as any, and their best album. That said, I'll also forewarn potential buyers that this is an item for the discount aisle and price considerations should never arise above $7.