Six Feet Under – “Crypt Of The Devil” (Metal Blade Records)
The beast is back. Barnes. God. Devil. Either way the dread locked, eye ball rolling into his skull legendary front man has returned with his latest offering of putrefying, maggot infested death metal. Relocating recently to Washington State owing to its legalization of marijuana in 2012, “Crypt Of The Devil” sees Barnes having reached a new high – or having smoked too much of his shit. While SFU is also made up of guitarist Steve Swanson, bassist Jeff Hughell and drummer Marco Pitruzella, amazingly this album has actually been recorded by an entirely different line up, namely the members of Cannabis Corpse – a Cannibal Corpse / Cannabis smoking tribute band! Having lent guest vocals to Cannabis’s track ‘From Wisdom To Bake’, Barnes soon found a smoking soul mate in bassist/vocalist Phil ‘Landphil’ Hall and it wasn’t long before the duo were penning tracks for this album. With the ‘erb now in full flow, Phil’s brother Josh soon began tracking drums and guitarist Brandon Ellis tracked the majority of the album’s leads. At this point you may well be asking yourself if this is the monster send up of the century, but I can assure you that it’s all perfectly true. Barnes even went so far as to record in London Bridge Studios (Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains) where he actually holed himself up in the very same booth as Layne Staley tracked vocals! Well, the sound is certainly fresh even with a slightly lank mix and none of the dark, disturbing vibes that ran through classic albums like ‘True Carnage’ or ‘Commandment’. Equally, I would say there is less of that classic groove and certainly hardly any pig squeals that I would say have defined SFU’s signature sound. That said, Barnes has found an absolute gem in Ellis, whose death metal technical virtuosity has to be heard – this guy shreds and loves piling on catchy death metal riffola – so it’s easy to see why Barnes hooked him in here and why Steve Swanson will have his work cut out delivering the goods live! Perhaps unsurprisingly songs like ‘The Night Bleeds’, ‘Break The Cross In Half’ and ‘Open Coffin Orgy’ in many ways sound more like Cannibal Corpse with Barnes once again singing for them, which I guess would be a dream come true for many, although personally I’ve always seen SFU as a band in their own right and in the highest echelons of death metal. Whatever the case, Chris Barnes continues yet again to remain as controversial as ever.