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 (if not the most) polarizing bands in 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 demos.
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 prominent Nu Metal elements. 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, the lyrical content was among death metal's most juvenile, and the Nu Metal elements were severely dialed up. The song "Amerika the Brutal" even gained infamy for its absolutely cringeworthy music video. However, the album's title track became a fan favorite.
Luckily, they got back on their feet a bit with 13, 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. The album went on to be their most critically acclaimed to date.
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.
As of 2015, Crypt of the Devil has been completed in collaboration with Phil Hall, Josh Hall, and Brandon Ellis, all of Cannabis Corpse. It came out on May 5 of that same year. In January 2016, Chris announced on his Twitter page that he was recording vocals for a new Graveyard Classics album, which came out May 27. The group's 12th album, entitled Torment, the first to feature original material from their new live lineup, came out in February 2017. A few months later, in a rather ironic twist, former Cannibal Corpse guitarist Jack Owen joined the band. The band's first EP in 22 years, Unburied, was released digital-only on July 6, 2018, consisting of 9 previously unreleased songs recorded during the Undead/Unborn and Torment sessions.
Their 13th album, Nightmares of the Decomposed, was released on October 2, 2020. The album reunites Chris with his old bandmate Jack Owen, marking the first time they have recorded together in studio in 26 years.
As of March 2023, songwriting for their 14th record has been completed with a release date to be determined. It will be their first album since Death Rituals to feature the exact same lineup as the previous.
- Chris Barnes - vocals (1995–present)
- Jeff Hughell - bass guitar (2012-present)
- Marco Pitruzzella - drums (2013-present)
- Ray Suhy - guitar (2016-present)
- Jack Owen - guitar (2017-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)
- Ola Englund - rhythm guitar (2012-2013)
- Steve Swanson - lead guitar (1998–2016)
- John Bush (Anthrax, Armored Saint) - vocals on "Blackout" (Graveyard Classics)
- Ice-T (Body Count) - guest vocals on "One Bullet Left" (True Carnage)
- Karyn Crisis (Crisis, Ephel Duath) - guest vocals on "Sick and Twisted" (True Carnage)
- Iggy Pop - voice message on "Shot in the Head" (Death Rituals)
- Ben Savage (Whitechapel) - songwriting and guitar on "Neuro Osmosis", "Decapitate", "Fragment", and "The Sinister Craving" (Unborn)
- Rob Arnold (Chimaira) - songwriting and guitar on "Inferno" and "Psychosis" (Unborn)
- Jari Laine (Torture Killer) - songwriting and guitar on "Zombie Blood Curse", "Incision", and "Inferno" (Unborn)
- Ryley Dipaola (Dealey Plaza) - songwriting, guitar, and drums on "Illusions" (Unborn digipak edition)
- Phil Hall (Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan, Cannabis Corpse) - songwriting, rhythm guitar, and bass (Crypt of the Devil)
- Josh Hall (Cannabis Corpse) - drums (Crypt of the Devil)
- Brandon Ellis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Cannabis Corpse, Arsis) - lead guitar (Crypt of the Devil)
- 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)
- Crypt of the Devil (2015)
- Torment (2017)
- Nightmares of the Decomposed (2020)
- Graveyard Classics (2000)
- Graveyard Classics 2 (2004)
- Graveyard Classics 3 (2010)
- Graveyard Classics IV: The Number of the Priest (2016)
- Alive and Dead (1996)
- Unburied (2018)
The band provides examples of:
- Author Vocabulary Calendar: If you took a drink for every time they said the word "grave", you'd be dead before you got halfway through their albums.
- Careful with That Axe: Chris' signature high-pitched screeches, which somehow get even more ear-piercing with age.
- Contemptible Cover: Most of their album covers aren't very graphic, but Nightmares of the Decomposed◊ breaks the trend. The unused cover, which Chris stated was deemed too graphic, was unveiled via the band's social media on the album's third anniversary, and to say the least, it's extremely unnerving, easily harkening back to his early days in Cannibal Corpse.
- Cover Album: 4 albums under the Graveyard Classics moniker, with the second being a cover of AC/DC's entire Back in Black album.
- Cover Version: Their original albums occasionally feature one cover; "Grinder" by Judas Priest on their first EP Alive and Dead, "Death or Glory" by Holocaust on Warpath, "War Machine" by Kiss on Maximum Violence, and "Bastard" by Mötley Crüe on Death Rituals. They also covered "Decency Defied" by Cannibal Corpse live in 2017, making it the first CC song performed by the band that Chris had no involvement in initially.
- Darker and Edgier: Their albums from Undead onward are much heavier, faster, more technical, and far more lyrically gruesome than what came before.
- Death Metal: What else?
- Drugs Are Bad: Barnes is infamous for his extremely heavy marijuana usage and the damage that it has done to his throat. According to him, he ended up quitting smoking weed in late 2022, though whether it was due to health reasons, wanting to give more consistent performances again, or if he even told the truth is unknown.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: 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.
- This even applies to Barnes himself, as he still sported the same hairstyle he did with Cannibal Corpse during production of the Allen West albums; he did not get his now-signature dreads until production of Maximum Violence.
- 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.
- I Am the Band: Again, Chris Barnes. As of Undead, he's the only original member left. The second-longest serving member, guitarist Steve Swanson (who first appeared on Maximum Violence) left in 2016.
- 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.
- "Fragment" off of Unborn is basically a Whitechapel song with Chris Barnes on vocals.
- "Escape from the Grave" from Bringer of Blood is written in the style of a classic Death track. This could be a nod to then-bassist Terry Butler's stint with them.
- "Murder Addiction" from Death Rituals bares a more-than-passing resemblance to Eaten Back to Life-era Cannibal Corpse.
- Later-Installment Weirdness: Their 2010s material is much different from their other albums, being faster and more technical, as they not only feature none of the original lineup besides Chris, but also feature an almost entirely different group of musicians on each one. Further exemplifying this is the fact that their later material gets performed live basically never.
- Lead Bassist: Jeff Hughell is a major Type A, but he doesn't really get a chance to go crazy here.
- Long-Runner Line-up: After Allen West left in 1997 and was replaced with Steve Swanson the following year, the lineup remained the same for 13 years until 2011.
- Loudness War: Avoided for the most part, but Bringer of Blood and all their albums from Undead onward are pretty bad about this.
- Miniscule Rocking: "Skin" from Unburied, clocking at a mere 31 seconds.
- New Sound Album:
- Maximum Violence featured more aggressive songwriting and shed the "Obituary with Chris Barnes" sound that dominated the first two albums.
- True Carnage had subtle but noticeable Nu Metal elements, which were expanded on Bringer of Blood and dropped entirely afterwards.
- 13 returned to their Maximum Violence sound, which lasted until the band's drastic lineup change in 2011.
- Undead featured a more modern and technical sound, as well as many landmarks of Chimaira thanks to Rob Arnold's presence.
- Unborn was more atmospheric and played with minor elements of Deathcore on some songs due to songwriting from Whitechapel's Ben Savage.
- Crypt of the Devil returns to their earlier sound, albeit with some of the hallmarks of Cannabis Corpse (due to recruiting the band as session musicians).
- Torment is a return to the more technical stylings of Undead and also features an increased blastbeat presence due to Marco Pitruzzella. It also features their most polished production to date, resulting in their most modern-sounding album.
- Nightmares of the Decomposed is rawer and reminiscent of Cannibal Corpse, albeit with changes to accompany Barnes' aged voice, most notably slower tempos.
- Nu Metal: True Carnage had elements of this, featuring stripped-down musicianship and many riffs that wouldn't sound out of place on a Korn or Coal Chamber album. Bringer of Blood expanded upon these elements, and went away completely afterwards.
- One-Word Title: Over half their albums.
- Religion Rant Song: , "Brainwashed" from Maximum Violence, "My Hatred" from Bringer of Blood and "Break the Cross in Half" from Crypt of the Devil are all Type 2.
- Revisiting the Roots: True Carnage and Undead/Unborn feature Chris revisiting his guttural Butchered at Birth/Tomb of the Mutilated vocal style on select songs, noticeable examples being on "Cadaver Mutilator" from the former as well as "Formaldehyde" and "Decapitate" from the latter two.
- Self-Deprecation: When asked on Twitter by a fan about how to sound like him when singing, he replied with "Practice and lots of weed."
- In Goniloc's YouTube video "A Bastardized History of Death Metal", he makes a joke that Chris had a "fate worse than death" after leaving Cannibal Corpse, with the punchline being a picture of the cover art of the first Graveyard Classics album. Chris' response? "Oh, no he didn't!" followed by a laughter emoji.
- Serial Escalation: How much longer will Barnes' dreads get?
- The more time passes, the higher Barnes seems to be capable of screeching. Some have even compared the pitch of a few of the ones he's pulled off to that of cicada chirps or a swarm of bees.
- 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.
- Shout-Out: The song "Hacked To Pieces" is one to Barnes-era Cannibal Corpse. Just read the lyrics!
- Chris himself stated that "Bloody Underwear" from Torment is a sequel song to the Cannibal Corpse song "Fucked with a Knife", sung from the perspective of the same killer.
- The song "Rest in Pieces" from 13 features a rather obvious callback to CC with the line "Rest in pieces in the tomb of the mutilated".
- Some of the lyrics Barnes recorded for the Vile demo Created to Kill, which was his last recording with Cannibal Corpse, were re-worked into some of the band's earlier songs. However, according to a response to a fan, Chris himself does not personally recall resuing said lyrics, possibly due to how long ago it was.
- Supergroup: Not entirely, but they've had numerous members who have played in other bands join the band or just play with them. Taken to extremes with the recording lineup for Crypt of the Devil, which is essentially "Cannabis Corpse feat. Chris Barnes".
- Three Chords and the Truth: Many of their songs are extremely simple in nature, especially for death metal. Averted on much of their most recent material, however.
- An example of this would be "Knife, Gun, Axe", which consists of only 6 notes.
- Vocal Decay: Performing guttural vocals for over 2 decades combined with his excessive weed smoking has made Barnes' voice become a lot more hoarse over the years, resulting in a staggering difference in his voice over the years, to the point that his vocals on Torment are closer to grunting than growling. However, as evidenced on a few of their songs (like "Decapitate" off Unborn, recorded in 2013) he can still sing like he did in his prime if he really wants to. This is especially noticeable when he performs the band's older songs live, in which he sounds much different than when they were originally recorded.
- Word Salad Lyrics: "Zodiac" is supposed to be about, well, the Zodiac Killer, but you wouldn't know if it weren't for the title and the chorus because the lyrics are just a jumble of words.Right now, in my brain
A slight tilt to the darkness
And I feel cold inside
The life washed out of my mind
The body way long back
Pick up the pieces of my destruction