Album Review: Nightmares of the Decomposed – Six Feet Under



Full disclosure: I’ve never been a major fan of Six Feet Under. I didn’t mind their first album, but it’s all pretty generic, uninspired stuff. Let’s be honest with each other, if Chris Barnes wasn’t attached to this project, they would’ve been relegated to demo-tape obscurity years ago. But, moving on, my first experience with Six Feet Under‘s new album – “Nightmares of the Decomposed” – was the second single “Zodiac,” so let’s start this review there. 

I reckon Edward Norton felt less violated in the prison shower scene in “American History X” than my poor ears did hearing “Zodiac” for the first time. If you’ve been on the Metal Blade Facebook site recently, it’s pretty clear the vocals are considered by many, including me, as particularly offensive. Chris has produced some of the most brutal vocals of his career here, but not in a way that will please fans. Before I get stuck into them, I feel the need to say that Barnsey’s vocals on “The Bleeding” are probably my favourite Death Metal vocals of all time. But, the vocals on “Nightmares of the Decomposed” are probably the worst I’ve ever heard.

Let’s deal with all the issues I have with vocals in one paragraph. It’s pretty clear his voice is shot, but as someone on the internet rightly pointed out, Chris’ vocals have been pretty average for a while now. So, why do they stink worse than his dreadlocks on “Nightmares of the Decomposed?” In my opinion, there are a few reasons. The vocals seem “dry” to me. I think some more reverb would’ve helped masked their shitness; admittedly, you’d probably have to drown the vocals in reverb to make them bearable. The second issue I have is that the vocal rhythms are, for the most part, uninspired, interchangeable, and dull. A factor at play here is that, at times, it sounds like ol’ mate Barnsey is struggling to catch his breath. Listen to “The Rotting” for an example. The last issue that might have influenced the choice of vocal rhythms was that Barnsey seemed to (occasionally) have trouble finding the beat.

Let’s move onto the lyrics, which shouldn’t be affected by overuse of one’s vocal chords, but might be influenced by overuse of drugs. Chris has knocked out some absolute classic song titles and lyrics here. “Dead Girls Don’t Scream,” “Blood of the Zombie,” and “Drink Blood Get High” are songs I’d expect from a 13 year old who has just formed his first Death Metal band. When they’re written by a 52 year old dude who has been writing lyrics for 30+ years, they’re fucking embarrassing. Music is supposed to art and Barnsey has churned out dogshit. It’s actually shameful that Six Feet Under expect people to pay money for this standard of work.

Alright! Let’s get to some positives. With respect to riffs, “Amputator” is not a bad song. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. The opening riff on “The Rotting” is cool too. But, there are a tonne of shit riffs on “Nightmares of the Decomposed.” The riffs in “Zodiac,” for example, could be written by literally anyone. I’ve tripped over a guitar, sent it flying, and the sounds it generated smashing against the floor were more pleasing than the riffs on “Zodiac.” The positive here is that, when listening to the shit riffs, I found my attention drifting to the drumming, which is actually rock-fucking-solid. It’s a highlight on this album.

To wrap up, I’ll overlook a weak album here or there – fuck knows I still love Sinister and they’ve released some dogshit – but I can’t overlook this. Even Slayer knew it was time to call it a day. It’s time Barnsey. If you’re looking for a positive to end your career on, let me help: This is the most memorable album you’ve released in years.

Rating – 2/5

John S:

Holy shit the bass, the guitars and the drums, wow, talk about amazing. As the instruments intensify, my head is banging and my fists are pumping furiously in the air. This is great! What can possibly go wrong? Well, let me tell you. The vocals. All of the power and the enjoyment is gone. It went from kick ass to total shit. I felt like my ears just got violated and I need to go see a psychotherapist to help me with my emotional stress. Yes, I do understand when you get older your voice takes a hit. But his took a shit. Was he smoking about five cartons of cigarettes a day or did he just have laryngitis on recording day? I had some very high hopes for this release. For me it has turned out to be nothing more than a cock tease.

Rating – 2/5

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