Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under originally started as a side project of Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes and former Obituary guitarist Allen West. Eventually Six Feet Under
became a full-time band after Barnes quite Cannibal Corspe. The band also featured ex-Death bassist Terry Butler and drummer Greg Gall.

Alive & Dead Six Feet Under - Alive & Dead (Metal Blade) 1996

1. "Insect" (3:00)
2. "Drowning" (3:02)
3. "Grinder" (4:03)
4. "Suffering in Ecstasy" [live] (2:35)
5. "Human Target" [live] (3:10)
6. "Lycanthropy" [live] (4:30)
7. "Beneath a Black Sky" [live] (3:01)

I must admit up front that I am not much of a fan of death metal. There are a few bands I dig, but my interest has waned considerably since the 90's when death metal was conquering the metal world. When this EP was released, my initial interest in it was purely for the Judas Priest cover, "Grinder." (I saw this CD for $2.99 and decided to pick it up for that song alone.) However, I ended up enjoying the entire disc and it started my quest for more CDs from Six Feet Under. Their simplistic gutteral style combined with a definite love for old school heavy metal is quite infectious. Six Feet Under are good old school, grunt and grind death metal! As for the Judas Priest cover, it's whimsically amusing in it's heavy handed approach.

Six Feet Under - Warpath (Metal Blade) 1997

1. "War Is Coming" (3:15)
2. "Nonexistence" (3:34)
3. "A Journey Into Darkness" (2:17)
4. "Animal Instinct" (4:49)
5. "Death or Glory" (2:52)
6. "Burnnig Blood" (3:58)
7. "Manipulation" (2:51)
8. "4:20" (4:24)
9. "Revenge of The Zombie" (2:50)
10. "As I Die" (3:54)
11. "Night Visions" (3:07)

I posted on a metal discussion board about these guys not to long ago and the verdict was pretty much unanimous, "Six Feet Under sucks". Hmmm, why is that? "Warpath" is certainly not sellout mall metalcore. There is nothing complicated, nothing progressive nor anything symphonic about Six Feet Under. They are not following any popular trends. Rather they just play riff primitive, bang yer head, fists in the air, never gonna leave the garage, sloppy, grunt death metal. The mix is thick and heavy and the overall mood is aggressive. So why the heck does everyone I asked hate them? Seems people think they are too simplistic. OK, I can see that! So what! Shoot, look at AC/DC! They have rocked us for decades playing the same basic blues based boogie formula. Judas Priest has had some of the most simplistic drumming ever recorded. Not everything has to be complicated to be enjoyed. Perhaps Six Feet Under are not the greatest or most seasoned musicians in the world, but they sure can get your head to banging. My particular copy comes in a neon green jewel case. Have read that "Warpath" was also released in a regular clear jewel case.

Graveyard Classics Six Feet Under - Graveyard Classics (Metal Blade) 1999

1.   Holocaust (Savatage) (4:39)
2.   TNT (AC/DC)  (3:29)
3.   Sweet Leaf (Black Sabbath) (5:22)
4.   Piranha (Exodus) (3:50)
5.   Son of a Bitch (Accept) (3:39)
6.   (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Paul Revere & the Raiders) (2:39)
7.   Confused (Angel Witch) (2:51)
8.   California Über Alles (Dead Kennedys) (3:40)
9.   Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple) (5:24)
10. Blackout (Scorpions) (3:43)
11. Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix) (2:52)
12. In League With Satan (Venom) (3:58)

In general I think death metal bands covering classic metal songs is a bad idea. Just about every track I have ever heard sucked royally. In general the death growls along with guitars that are tuned way to low just ruin the songs, rather than make them heavier or more brutal. However, I really dug Six Feet Under's cover of Judas Priest's "Grinder" that was released on their "Alive & Dead" EP a few years ago. I also thought that Arch Enemy's version of Priest's "Starbreaker" and Iron Maiden's "Aces High", were awesome. So it was mostly for novelty sake that I picked up this disc. Chris Barnes is one of the originators of death metal, so I sort of figured if anyone could pull off quality death metal versions of Savatage, Scorpions and Accept, he could. Well, for the most part this album is nothing more than what I originally had thought, a novelty. Listen to it once or twice and the novelty wears off. For the most part the music to the songs is played note for note, sounding much like the originals. However, when the growling vocals begin, they just sound, well, dumb. OK, actually, they are amusing and somewhat shocking, especially considering how close the band sticks to the original compositions. This is especially true on songs like Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf", AC/DC's "TNT", Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and especially Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." That particular cover is just horrendous, yet still curiously amusing. On the other hand, Savatage's "Holocaust" and Accept's "Son of A Bitch" don't sound bad at all. I actually think the inclusion of Savatage was quite cool, as few bands have paid homage to those guys. The song that was the best on this disc, and the one song that does seem to lend itself better to death metal is Exodus' "Piranha." I suppose since death metal was an offshoot of thrash metal, this explains the successful marriage. Another song that was interesting to me was "Blackout". On this particular song Anthrax/Armored Saint vocalist John Bush was brought in to sing the verses and some of the choruses. The mix of vocal styles actually makes for an interesting cover, although Chris had to mess things up with his impromptu expletive. Death vocals are just too one dimensional and unexciting for most classic rock songs, but then that has been my beef with most death metal from the very beginning. Despite this, I still find this disc to be amusing and one that I pull out and listen to every once in a while.

True Carnage Six Feet Under  - True Carnage (Metal Blade) 2001

1.    Impulse to Disembowel (3:11)
2.    The Day the Dead Walked (2:15 )
3.    It Never Dies (2:42)
4.    The Murderers (2:40)
5.    Waiting for Decay (2:41)
6.    One Bullet Left (3:32)
7.    Knife, Gun, Axe (3:56)
8.    Snakes (2:44)
9.    Sick and Twisted (3:52)
10.  Cadaver Mutilator (2:35)
11.  Necrosociety (4:09)

Every metalhead in the world seems to hate this band, at least that’s how it would appear if you read reviews on-line. Truth be told, many metalheads love the simplistic, death ‘n’ grind approach of Chris Barnes and Six Feet Under, myself included. His vocals on “True Carnage” are great. His deep growls sound like he just came out of the studio for "Tomb of the Mutilated", while those high pitches shrieks are ear piercing. The songs, for the most part are simple, straight forward, catchy and heavy as tank coming at you, all guns blazing. "The Day the Dead Walked", "Cadaver Mutilator" and "Waiting For Decay" are some standout tracks here. "Cadaver Mutilator" in particular has a heavy sound not unlike a train barreling down the tracks. "One Bullet Left" features a guest appearance by rapper/actor Ice-T. His appearance on this track reeks of cheese, but it certainly makes the song stand out. On first listen I wasn’t sure what I thought of this song, but with a few listens I began to actually appreciate what they were trying to do, even if his expletive infested diatribe does seem out of place. Karyn Crisis (of Crisis) also makes a guest appearance. Her duet on "Sick and Twisted" makes the songs one of the other more interesting tracks presented here.

Six Feet Under - Graveyard Classics II (Metal Blade) 2004

1. "Hell's Bells" (5:11)
2. "Shoot To Thrill" (5:18)
3. "What Do You Do For Money Honey?" (3:36)
4. "Givin' The Dog A Bone" (3:33)
5. "Let Me Put My Love Into You" (4:15)
6. "Back In Black" (4:24)
7. "You Shook Me All Night Long" (3:30)
8. "Have A Drink On Me" (3:58)
9. "Shake A Leg" (4:04)
10. "Rock 'N' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" (4:19)

Check any metal review site for a review of this CD and you will find nothing but negative remarks, many that are even hostile. Everyone and their mother seem to hate this CD with a passion. However, I find it to be freakin' hilarious!!! This album is AC/DC's "Back In Black" covered in its entirety with death metal vocals and downtuned guitars! The band sticks pretty close to the original songs, but man, those vocals. What a riot! Yes, I suppose this CD is a bit of a novelty, but so what! It's fun. I think people have forgotten that aspect of heavy metal. I think metalheads have lost sight of what rock and metal is all about due to their obsession with technical ability, mass production, and taking themselves just a bit too serious. Metal was about raw unbrideled passion, energy, emotion and fun. Six Feet Under have released something that I think embodies this attitude. I find "Graveyard Classics" to be fun and funny at the same time. I wouldn't doubt that Chris Barnes and his grunt and grind crew knew that they would ensure the wrath of 95% of the death metal community with this release. For that I applaud them. Count me in with the 5% that get it. Keep 'em coming SFU. "YOU shook me allll night looong..."

Bringer of Blood Six Feet Under - Bringer Of Blood (Metal Blade) 2004

1.   Sick In The Head (4:12)
2.   Amerika The Brutal (3:01)
3.   My Hatred (4:22)
4.   Murdered In The Basement (2:19)
5.   When Skin Turns Blue (3:27)
6.   Bringer Of Blood (2:54)
7.   Ugly (2:58)
8.   Braindead (3:43)
9.   Blind And Gagged (3:10)
10. Claustrophobic (2:50)
11. Escape From The Grave (3:54)
1. The making of "Bringer of Blood"
2. Interview with Chris Barnes
3. Six Feet Underground
4. Photo Gallery

I don't exactly know what it is about SFU that people detest much. A quick check on-line reveals that a lot of death metal fans despise Chris Barnes and Six Feet Under. I picked up this CD on Amazon where the album has over twenty 1 or 2 star ratings. Likewise has most ratings at under 50%. People complain about the music, they mock his vocals, criticize the lyrics, constantly compare the band to Cannibal Corpse and blast the simplicity of the whole thing–and these are death metal fans. However, many of the things these people complain about are what I like about Six Feet Under. In modern death metal there seems to be this competition about which band is the most brutal, fastest, most technical, heaviest, etc. Six Feet Under don't seem concerned with any of these things whatsoever and continue to just crank out album after album of simple, straight-forward, gutteral heavy metal. I've adopted the term "grunt 'n' grind death metal" to describe their sound.

"Bringer of Blood" is Six Feet Under's fifth full length studio album and is pretty much just more of the same groove based death metal. Barnes does add some new dimensions to his otherwise deep growls, adding in some higher pitched pig squeals this time around. Musically, it's just heavy simple and brutal. The songs are such that you can just bang your head without the daunting task of trying to decipher the music. Despite the nearly undecipherable vocals, there is something catchy about the songs. Perhaps that is what upsets so many death metal and core fans.

The lyrics on some songs move away from the typical gore and b-grade horror and are more personal, Barnes even writing some political commentarites. "Amerika the Brutal" is a pollitical, anti-war rant. It's interesting to hear another persons perspective on life, even if I don't always agree. Several on-line reviews I have read stated that politics don't belong in death metal. Why not? Who makes these rules? I'm sure it's the same people who try to censor metal by making claims that religion doesn't belong in metal as well. There are some lyrics more typical to death metal. "Murdered in the Basement" and "Bringer of Blood" are dark and gory. "My Hatred" is am angry, venom-spewing rant against Christianity. Unfortunately, Chris is another metal artist that can't write a song without using the same four-letter expletive over and over again. It comes off sounding rather unintelligent in my opinion and feeds into the stereotype of "ignorant metal-head". Whatever the lyrical themes, I certainly don't look to a band like Six Feet Under for intellectual thought. It's not really about that. It's about simple, heavy, head-banging metal songs and gutteral growled vocals. As such, Six Feet Under deliver on all fronts. Anyone looking for anything more should look elsewhere.

There is a bit of hidden music buried at the end of "Escape from the Grave". The actual song is only about four minutes long but there are several minutes of silence following the song before the hidden track. The digi-pack CD in slipcase comes with a bonus DVD titled "The Making of Bringer of Blood". The video consists of footage of the band rehearsing the material for "Bringer of Blood". There is also a lengthy interview with Chris Barnes, full dreadlocks and drink coasters in his ears.

Death Rituals Six Feet Under - Death Rituals (Metal Blade) 2008

1. Death by Machete (3:45)
2. Involuntary Movement of Dead Flesh (3:29)
3. None Will Escape (3:24)
4. Eulogy for the Undead (4:17)
5. Seed of Filth (4:58)
6. Bastard (3:26)
7. Into the Crematorium (3:43)
8. Shot in the Head (5:02)
9. Killed in Your Sleep (4:38)
10. Crossroads to Armageddon (2:09)
11. Ten Deadly Plagues (5:11)
12. Crossing the River Styx (outro) (1:16)
13. Murder Addiction (3:57)

Eight studio albums in (not counting live releases and the "Graveyard Classics" series) and Six Feet Under are still grinding and burping away. Despite my boredom with much of what is labeled death metal these days, I still find Six Feet Under to be compelling and more enjoyable than most.

The sound here is far less "death 'n roll" (as some have called it) and more straight-forward, old school death metal. Of course with this band groove is also a major component which keeps the music from getting boring. In fact, many times within a few listens I found myself banging my head to the songs on "Death Rituals". Steve Swanson's riffs are solid and he also cranks out some tasty licks. (Case in point, check out the solo break in "Seed of Filth") Barnes' vocals are as they always have been. Oddly enough at certain points Barnes reminds me of Lurch from the Addam's Family TV show. If Lurch had gotten together a dark, death metal band I can only imagine it would sound much like this. Songs like "Death by Machete", "Shot in the Head" and "Death by Machete" recall the early SFU catalog. "Eulogy for the Undead" trades off from the heavy, slow and grinding to fast, double-bass driving and pummeling. This track actually reminds me of the early 1990's death metal bands like Obituary and Mortification. "Ten Deadly Plagues" on the other end of the spectrum is slow, plodding and doom-laden SFU. The band also covers Motley Crue's "Bastard", and give it their own special treatment. I love SFU's cover songs and this one is no exception.

Chris Barnes' production is strong. The songwriting is strong. Other than the haunting and odd interlude "Crossroads to "Armageddon", there is absolutely nothing to dislike about this album. It's prime SFU!

Graveyard Classics III Six Feet Under - Graveyard Classics III (Metal Blade) 2010

1. A Dangerous Meeting (Mercyful Fate) (5:11)
2. Metal On Metal (Anvil) (4:08)
3. The Frayed Ends Of Sanity (Metallica) (7:40)
4. At Dawn They Sleep (Slayer) (6:31)
5. Not Fragile (BTO) (4:02)
6. On Fire (Van Halen) (3:16)
7. Pounding Metal (Exciter) (4:24)
8. Destroyer (Twisted Sister) (4:09)
9. Psychotherapy (The Ramones) (2:31)
10. Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck (Prong) (4:14)

Not one, not two, but THREE! Graveyard Classics III is the third cover album by Six Feet Under. Obviously those that hated the first two covers albums will find nothing to praise about this third installment. However, for those of us who are fans of classic metal, as well as Six Feet Unders' simplistic death metal approach, this is just one more album to bang our collective heads to. The last album was all AC/DC. This time around, like the first album, we get a mix of songs with covers of Mercyful Fate, Anvil, Metallica, Slayer, BTO, Van Halen, Exciter, Twisted Sister, The Ramones & Prong. The music here is quite tight and not quite raw as one might imagine. In fact, growler Chris Barnes is the most brutal, raw thing about this collection. In fact, the music on "GCIII" is so tight, SFU would best be described as a classic heavy metal band with a death metal growler.

The first four songs fit the band's style like a glove, as does Exciter's "Pounding Metal". The was also true of the first "Graveyard Classics" release when the band covered Exodus' "Piranha". Thrash metal just seems to lend itself better to a more gutteral death metal approach than classic rock. Indeed this is true of a song like "Not Fragile" from B.T.O, no matter how heavy that song was for the 1970's. The same can be said for the band's cover of Van Halen's "On Fire". For the higher vocal parts Barnes squeals like a constipated pig. Ridiculous? Sure, but it's also hilariously fun. Interestingly enough Stryper also recorded a cover of this song on their cover album "The Covering". Twisted Sister's "Destroyer", a slow, grinding classic metal song, also lends itself perfectly to the band's style. Six Feet Under doesn't really stray far from the originals in any of these covers, save for the vocal approach.

What impressed me was how well Six Feet Under overcame the challenge of The Ramones "Psychotherapy" and the groove metal classic "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck". Did they obliterate these two songs? They absolutely did! I expected no less.

Was a third covers album really necessary from Six Feet Under? Probably not, but it's not about necessity. It's about a band paying tribute to the roots of their sound. To quote Chris Barnes, "this is a tribute to honor the great teachers that have influenced us as well as the world of metal we all belong to. We hope our fans will enjoy.“

This was the last album to feature original members Greg Gall and Terry Butler before their departure in early 2011.

Unborn Six Feet Under - Unborn (Metal Blade) 2013

1. Neuro Osmosis (3:10)
2. Prophecy (3:20)
3. Zombie Blood Curse (4:08)
4. Decapitate (2:50)
5. Incision (2:49)
6. Fragment (2:56)
7. Alive To Kill You (3:18)
8. The Sinister Craving (2:16)
9. Inferno (2:53)
10. Psychosis (3:47)
11. The Curse Of Ancients (4:37)

It seems like it wasn't that long ago that "Undead" was released and suddenly we have another new album from Six Feet Under titled "Unborn". With the ever changing line-up this band seems to have been suffering through, I didn't really expect something new so quickly. On "Undead", Chris Barnes and Steve Swanson were joined by Rob Arnold, Matt Devries, and Kevin Talley, all former members of Chimaira. On "Unborn" Barnes, Swanson and Talley remain, joined by bassist Jeff Hugell and guitarist Ola Englund.  Oddly enough, a large chunk of the music on this album was written by Ben Savage and Jari Laine, who are not in the band and credited as guest musicians. Quite the soap opera but all that matters is what is delivered musically.

"Unborn" is exactly what I expect to hear from Barnes. Heavy as a freight train loaded with steel, this death metal locomotive continues to deliver the goods. The band isn't overly speedy, but instead focuses on killer riffs and grooves. That's not to say the speedy parts don't exist, but it's not the basis of each and every song. As such, "Unborn" doesn't become tiresome to listen to. Frankly, what I have always liked about this band is the mid-paced, heavy grind that they deliver over their faster material which to me lacks the charisma of the other songs. As a whole the album is solid from beginning to end, though it does have a few standout tracks such as "Prophecy" with it's quick triplets, menacing grind and Barnes signature death metal vocals. "Zombie Blood Curse" has a crushing groove, a thrash-metal riff taken right out of the Gary Holt arsenal of thrash metal riffing and a slow, doomy bridge in the middle of the song. It's just a real headbanger! I listened to this CD for the first time and after this song played through, I hit the repeat button and listened to it again. Rarely do I get into a song that quickly. 

The other thing about "Unborn" is they seem to have the mix/production just right. The guitars are meaty and biting, the drums are pummeling, the bass is actually audible and gives the songs a killer bottom end. "Unborn" may very well be the best Six Feet Under release in years. 

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