Six Feet Under (not to be confused with the show
) is a Death Metal
band formed in 1993 by ex-Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes. Initially, the band was a side project between Barnes and Obituary guitarist Allen West, but it became a full-time band after Barnes left Cannibal Corpse. Despite being infamous as one of the most polarizing bands in classic death metal, Six Feet Under have come a long way from being "that band Allen West and Chris Barnes started", and are now one of the bigger names in the genre.
1995 marked the release of Haunted
, the group's debut album, which showcased a slow, groovy approach to death metal not heard in Chris' work with CC. While it was criticized by some for sounding too much like Obituary, it was generally well-received and is still regarded as one of the band's best albums. It was the only album by the band made while they were still a side project, as well as the only album completed before Barnes' departure from CC, being recorded around the same time as the Created to Kill
Two years later, their sophomore album Warpath
dropped, being the final album to feature founding guitarist Allen West. Soundwise, it continued in the same vein as its predecessor, and is also regarded as a good album. After this album, West left the band, and their musical direction began to change drastically. Once guitarist Steve Swanson, formerly of Massacre, joined, Maximum Violence
was released, which had a more violent, blistering approach to their sound as opposed to the laid-back sound of the prior two albums, without sacrificing any of the groove that the band continues to be famous for. Like its predecessors, it received positive reviews, and is one of the only albums by the band to be enjoyed even by non-fans.
Unfortunately, however, things started to go downhill from there. The band's fourth album True Carnage
was very poorly received, and to date is generally considered to be their worst album. It was widely criticized for its overly sludgy production, sluggish pace, lazy riffs, and subtle but noticeable nu-metal elements (e.g. the main riff on "Knife, Gun Axe" has been called out for sounding like it was ripped straight from a Korn album). However, some considered Barnes' temporary return to his Tomb of the Mutilated
-esque vocal style to be a redeeming factor. 2003's Bringer of Blood
fared a tad better in the production department, but overall wasn't much better. Barnes' voice was mixed loudly and sounded almost completely blown out, and the nu-metal elements were severely dialed up. The song "Amerika the Brutal" even gained infamy for its absolutely cringeworthy music video.
Luckily, they got back on their feet a bit with 13
, which marked a return to the classic death metal of their early material, though it did receive some backlash for its quiet production, requiring speakers to be turned to max volume to hear. The band's next two albums, Commandment
and Death Rituals
, were greeted positively but were pretty lukewarmly received overall by fans. After Death Rituals
, drummer Greg Gall and bassist Terry Butler left, and due to the okay reception of the band's recent releases, Barnes decided to take a break and start everything over with Six Feet Under.
In late 2011, Barnes recruited guitarist Rob Arnold, formerly of Chimaira, and prolific death metal drummer Kevin Talley, and set out to bring SFU back to life. This lineup spent a while writing material for the band's ninth album Undead
, and needless to say, it took the death metal community by storm and was certainly an album that nobody saw coming. To say the least, the band was indeed reborn; Barnes rested his voice and sounded completely revamped and ferocious, the riffs were much, much more technical than ever, the drumming was fast and more brutal than prior releases, and the band as a whole sounded more energetic and hungry. It even shut up the group's detractors, and it was clear that Barnes was finally back in peak form.
After Rob Arnold left, Barnes recruited guitarist Ola Englund of Feared and bassist Jeff Hughell formerly of Brain Drill, and was in full control of the band again, and less than a year after Undead
, the band's tenth album Unborn
dropped, and featured a diverse mix of playing styles and contributions from numerous other death metal musicians, including Ben Savage of Whitechapel and Jari Laine of Torture Killer. Currently, Barnes is writing material for the band's next release.
- Chris Barnes - vocals (1995–present)
- Steve Swanson - lead guitar (1998–present)
- Ola Englund - rhythm guitar (2012-present)
- Jeff Hughell - bass guitar (2012-present)
- Marco Pitruzzella - drums (2013-present)
- Allen West - lead guitar (1995-1998)
- Terry Butler - bass guitar (1995-2011)
- Greg Gall - drums (1995–2011)
- Matt DeVries - bass guitar (2011–2012)
- Rob Arnold - rhythm guitar (2011–2012)
- Kevin Talley - drums (2011-2013)
- Haunted (1995)
- Warpath (1997)
- Maximum Violence (1999)
- True Carnage (2001)
- Bringer of Blood (2003)
- 13 (2005)
- Commandment (2007)
- Death Rituals (2008)
- Undead (2012)
- Unborn (2013)
- Graveyard Classics (2000)
- Graveyard Classics 2 (2004)
- Graveyard Classics 3 (2010)
The band provides examples of the following tropes:
- Cover Album: 3 albums under the Graveyard Classics moniker, with the second being a cover of AC/DC's entire Back In Black album.
- Death Metal: What else?
- Death/Doom: Their slowest songs (e.g. "Necrosociety", "Neuro Osmosis", "Shortcut to Hell") border on this.
- Brutal Death Metal: Undead features heavy elements of this.
- Nu Metal: True Carnage and Bringer of Blood feature traces of this, especially the latter.
- Drugs Are Bad: Barnes is infamous for his extremely heavy marijuana usage. Taking drugs has not done him well, as he as aged very roughly over the years. He doesn't look terrible, but he certainly looks a hell of a lot different than he used to.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Not one, but two examples: The two albums with Allen West on guitar basically sound like Obituary with Chris Barnes, which is a sound that was largely dropped after Steve Swanson joined the band. Also, those familiar with Undead and Unborn, despite being the band's ninth and tenth albums respectively, will find every other album odd-sounding, as these albums are much more modern and technical than anything else they had ever done.
- Gorn: Not quite as over-the-top as Chris' previous band, but they still have some really violent stuff. With song titles like "Impulse to Disembowel", "Hacked to Pieces", "Molest Dead", and "Cadaver Mutilator", one can certainly expect Barnes is just as violent as ever. Try to look up the lyrics to "Impulse to Disembowel" and "Cadaver Mutilator" without cringing a little.
- I Am the Band: Again, Chris Barnes. As of Undead, he's the only original member left.
- In the Style of...: If Chimaira played death metal and had Barnes on vocals, Undead is basically what you would get. Then again, that's pretty much what it was.
- Jerk Ass: If this incident is anything to go by, Chris Barnes is a major one of these, as well as a Dirty Coward and a Small Name, Big Ego.
- Lead Bassist: Jeff Hughell is a major Type A, but he doesn't really get a chance to go crazy here.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Soft 9 to solid 10.
- New Sound Album:
- Maximum Violence featured more aggressive songwriting and shed the "Obituary with Chris Barnes" sound that dominated their first two albums.
- Undead introduced a more modern and technical sound, which carried over to Unborn.
- One-Word Title: Over half their albums.
- Serial Escalation: How much longer will Barnes' dreads get?
- Signature Style: Expect heavy grooves, emphasis on hooks, and song structures and playing styles different from many other classic death metal bands. Not to mention Barnes' distinct voice. Love 'em or hate 'em, there aren't really any bands in death metal who sound quite like them.
- Supergroup: Not entirely, but they've had numerous members who have played in other bands join the band or just play with them.
- Vocal Evolution: Barnes uses different vocal styles depending on the album.