You’d be hard pressed to have a conversation about death metal without mentioning one of Tampa, Florida’s finest, Six Feet Under. Love them or hate them you can’t deny their massive impact on death metal. I remember (barely) when I first got into death metal, Six Feet Under was recommended along with bands like Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Deicide, Obituary and a few others. I remember thinking Chris Barnes‘ vocals sounded like a pissed off cookie monster from hell, and I loved every minute of it. Chris Barnes has made a huge impact on death metal vocals, beating down the path and creating the blueprint for countless bands emerging from the underground since the late 80s and early 90s. Six Feet Under has released a total of eleven studio albums including their latest release, Crypt Of The Devil. Crypt Of The Devil features ten, brand new, face-melting tracks. It was released on May 5th and is available through Metal Blade Records.
Barnes, who was the original vocalist for Cannibal Corpse, started Six Feet Under as a side project in 1993 with Allen West, Obituary‘s guitarist. They were soon joined by Terry Butler (Massacre) on bass and Greg Gall, Terry Butler‘s brother-in-law on drums. By 1996, Barnes parted ways with Cannibal Corpse and made Six Feet Under his main project. Over the years, Six Feet Under has seen quite a few lineup changes, which is very common in the death metal genre for some reason. The current live line-up is Chris Barnes on vocals, Steve Swanson (ex-Massacre) on guitar, Jeff Hughell (ex-Vile, ex-Brain Drill) on bass, and Marco Pitruzzella (ex- Vile, ex-Brain Drill, ex-The Faceless, ex-Vital Remains) on the drums. However, the album was recorded by Chris Barnes and members of the marijuana-themed death metal band, Cannabis Corpse. Barnes and Phil “Land Phil” Hall (Cannabis Corpse, Municipal Waste, and Iron Reagan) met on tour back in 2013 and they must have clicked because they began writing what was to become Crypt Of The Devil in 2014. Phil “Land Phil” Hall recorded all the bass and rhythm guitar at his studio in Virginia. Phil‘s brother and band mate in Cannabis Corpse, Josh “Hall Hammer” Hall recorded the drums and Brandon Ellis, also a member of Cannabis Corpse, recorded most of the lead guitar. Chris Barnes recorded his vocals at London Bridge Studio in Seattle. The album was mixed in Sarasota, Florida by Rob Caldwell and mastered at West Westside by Alan Douches.
Six Feet Under is not your typical death metal sound, their sound is more mid-tempo in comparison to most bands in the genre. They don’t need blistering fast speeds and an over-abundance of blast beats to make a brutal death metal sound. They have more of a groove style that is different from the typical modern death metal sound, still brutal, just different. With Crypt Of The Devil nothing has changed, they still have that very distinct sound to them. I enjoyed their 2012 release, Undead and I really liked the 2013 release, Unborn so naturally I have been looking forward to getting Crypt Of The Devil ever since I heard the first single, “Open Coffin Orgy.” I finally got my hands on it and I have to say, this record sounds great. The production is top notch and the music is even better. Barnes wrote most of the lyrics from the point of view of a serial killer, a very common theme in death metal. So lyrically it’s nothing overly original, but being the huge horror nerd that I am, it’s a theme that I personally love and will never get tired of. With song titles like “Stab,” “Compulsion to Brutalize,” “Slit Wrists,” “Open Coffin Orgy,” and “Broken Bottle Rape” it’s pretty clear to see it’s the same old Six Feet Under and if you ask me, that’s a good thing. Why would you change something that works? And it’s not like their albums all sound the same, with Barnes constantly working with different musicians in the studio it helps keep each album fresh. Working with Phil “Land Phil” Hall was a great move for Chris Barnes in my opinion, I think this album holds up with Six Feet Under‘s last two releases, Undead (2012) and Unborn (2013) no question. Whether or not it’s better than the last two albums is debatable but it holds up no question.
Crypt Of The Devil opens up with one of the best songs on the album in my opinion, “Gruesome.” I always like a real head-banger to start every album, it gets the attention of the listener right away, the trick is to keep the listener’s attention throughout the entire record. Well, that’s no problem when track two is “Open Coffin Orgy,” the single released early to promote the album. It has the catchiest riff of the album and is definitely another favorite track. Track five, “Lost Remains” is another favorite on the album, the guitar solo is absolutely epic. It’s one of those albums you can listen to the whole way through without having to skip tracks. Phil “Land Phil” Hall wrote some really great riffs for this album. There are a lot of great songs on Crypt Of The Devil and they all have just a little splash of Cannabis Corpse flavor but at the same time remaining true to the Six Feet Under sound. Brandon Ellis‘ guitar solos are nothing short of amazing, he shines throughout this whole record. Josh “Hall Hammer” Hall also shines throughout the record with very solid and precise drumming. “Gruesome,” “Open Coffin Orgy,” “Slit Wrists,” and “Lost Remains” are my favorite songs of the bunch but that being said, this whole album crushes! There are no filler songs and definitely no bad songs, it’s a very solid release.
Overall I think Crypt Of The Devil is a pretty badass record by a badass band. Six Feet Under has been putting out some awesome death metal over the years and lately I feel like they have released some of their best stuff. If you’re into Six Feet Under or death metal in general then you need to get a copy of this album, it’s a solid offering from a veteran band. I give Crypt Of The Devil, Six Feet Under‘s eleventh studio album, 665/666 horns. I’m really enjoying this record and you should be too! You can pick up a copy of Crypt Of The Devil through the Amazon link in the sidebar. Your ears will surely bleed and your head will surely bang.
By: Shawn “Short-Fuse” Carter