Six Feet Under is one of the finest death metal bands from the USA. They have been around for over a decade and 13 is their eighth (or ninth if you include their live album Double Dead Redux) release and sees them going back to their hard-rocking, merciless death metal roots. Though the last couple of albums of the band weren't all well-received by their fanbase, Six Feet Under has always been a consistent band for the most part. Driven by the throaty and classic vocals of Chris Barnes (formerly of Cannibal Corpse), the band plays a more direct and yet perhaps more effective style of death metal, emphasizing amazing guitar riffs through and through with hammering drumming and a full bass bottom.
As the previous albums, 13 is a very solid release. It is filled with all the classic Six Feet Under elements: destroying riffs, god-heavy drums, deeply growled vocals, and a fitting production. The sound is deliberately muddy, just as an old school death metal should be. The riffs are huge and heavy, though it would have been a lot better if there were more of them. Songs like "Shadow of the Reaper" exude complex riffs, awesome melodic breaks, and slightly exotic guitar work with Barnes' unmistakable vocals. On the other hand, "The Poison Hand" finds the band exploring a darker realm, utilising a fat bass sound, and some of the best guitar riffs you can hear on Six Feet Under albums. Guitarist Steve Swanson's solo on the punishing "The Art of Headhunting" actually recalls the atonal solos on earlier Morbid Angel albums. Greg Gall's drumming on this piece is fast and pounding, pushing it into the territory of Barnes' previous band where speed and aggression were a priority over groove and riffage.
A side note is that Chris Barnes was most involved in the making of 13, as he also co-produced it with long-time engineer Chris Carroll. I remember reading an interview with him prior to the release of this album where he noted 13 was meant to reflect where they were musically as they'd just returned from a long tour with plenty of ideas. Obviously they approached this album in a different way writing and recording-wise. And this certainly shows. 13 perfectly embraces his Corpse roots with his speed-ridden SFU vision, best captured on their earlier releases.
- Decomposition of the Human Race
- Somewhere in the Darkness
- Rest in Pieces
- Shadow of the Reaper
- The Poison Hand
- This Suicide
- The Art ofHeadhunting