There are certain schools of thought out there that would say Six Feet Under are the ‘AC/DC of the Death Metal World’, which depending on how you view this can have either an ambiguous or indifferent opinion. The mid 1990s were a source of concern for metal veterans back in the day, when Chris Barnes left to form Six Feet Under; while Cannibal Corpse drafted in ex-Monstrosity vocalist George Fisher. However, much beer has gone under the bridge and both are both equally successful entities.
Nevertheless, Six Feet Under nowadays are a well received band in the extreme metal world that incredibly have 15 studio albums under their belt, and a fourth addition to their Graveyard Classics series in the form of ‘Number of the Priest’. This time around, half of the album covers Iron Maiden, the other half Judas Priest – as given by the obvious portmanteau. However, they’ve not gone for the obvious classics which are Painkiller, Breaking The Law, Number of the Beast, and Fear of the Dark. Maybe this could be down to the fact that everybody covers those? Maybe it was more of a challenge that was set by the band themselves? To be honest, it’s highly likely down to a combination of the two.
The first thing that becomes apparent that the album has a decent, crunchy mastering. The opening track “Night Crawler” leaps from the speakers with a raw sense of pummelling vitality, but there’s a curious feel with the vocal mix that feels as if it was literally slapped over the top as an afterthought. Many albums nowadays have parts done in different studios and cobbled together, and not all done in the same place compared to the days of yore. But, there is a definite intangible quality that most listeners with a critical set of ears will notice glaringly. “Genocide” is an intriguing cover, which when shoved through “Six Feet Under’s Patented Death Metal Filter™” has an immediately groovy drive that for some reason works well; encapsulating the spirit of the original track but adding a flavour of its own – an important component on how a cover should work, and should take note.
“Murder In The Rue Morgue” works surprisingly well, that translated perfectly as a cover. Six Feet Under appear to add extra hooks of their own from the original tune, which in the first place was one of Iron Maidens more superior tunes; while “Prowler” and “Flash of the Blade” are a brilliantly silly blast that will have fans of both bands throwing massive guitar shapes.
The big problem with the ‘Graveyard Classics‘ series in general for some people, is that there are certain schools of thought that take them far too seriously. The band have released these albums to show their fans what their influences are, their favourite bands, and the tunes that sown the seed for forming a band themselves. The music that brought them into a new lifestyle that is simply beyond music, a camaraderie, a spark that other music couldn’t provide. When you take that approach to these series of albums, then they can be understood perfectly. It can be far too easy to simply smash one’s cynical meat paws into keyboard without a clear understanding of what the band are trying to do. Which is a fitting tribute to the bands that without them, wouldn’t be here today.
‘Graveyard Classics IV: The Number of the Priest‘ track listing:
- Night Crawler
- Never Satisfied
- Murders in the Rue Morgue
- Flash of the Blade
- The Evil That Men Do
- Stranger in a Strange Land
- Total Eclipse
- - 6/106/10