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Six Feet Under - "Graveyard Classics 3" (CD)

Six Feet Under - "Graveyard Classics 3" CD cover image

"Graveyard Classics 3" track listing:

1. A Dangerous Meeting (5:10) (Mercyful Fate)
2. Metal on Metal (4:07) (Anvil)
3. The Frayed Ends of Sanity (7:40) (Metallica)
4. At Dawn They Sleep (6:30) (Slayer)
5. Not Fragile (4:02) (Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
6. On Fire (3:16) (Van Halen)
7. Pounding Metal (4:23) (Excited)
8. Destroyer (4:09) (Twisted Sister)
9. Psychotherapy (2:31) (The Ramones)
10. Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck (4:13) (Prong)

Reviewed by on January 25, 2010

"Kudos is in order for not going the true classic route – Six Feet Under did their due diligence and chose deep cuts that really fit their style as well as their tastes."

American Death Metal outfit Six Feet Under (SFU) formed way back in 1993, and they like to have fun. Over the past decade, they have cranked out two complete cover albums, along with numerous cover tracks on their own original albums. Six Feet Under has returned this year with “Graveyard Classics 3,” which is chock full of more metal classics that have been altered just enough to fit the band’s straight forward and mid-tempo groove-death chug.

As with most cover albums, the biggest challenge is selecting songs that will work well with the style and intent of the album; the band’s self-described “death groove” style plays well with most of the selections here. Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Metallica, Exciter, Twisted Sister – all these types work well. Guitarist Steve Swanson (ex-Massacre) drives most of the melody (don’t look at cookie monster master vocalist Chris Barnes for that), and Swanson’s sludgy chug is flexible and ranges easily across all the selections, while respectfully including all the riffs, solos, pulls, whams and mutes with grooved ease.

But it is Barnes’ vocals that make the songs different – without his gargling-marbles delivery, the covers would just be downtuned repetitions, but the droning, crawling, almost begging vocals give the songs the twist to make them interesting. Particularly on songs like “On Fire,” “Metal on Metal,” and “Destroyer,” the vocals drag the potency of the original riffs to the fore and let them shine, despite the fact that these songs aren’t must haves for death metal cover completists.

A couple misfires are included; “Not Fragile” loses the progressive nuance of BTO’s original in the down-tuned morass, and “Psychotherapy” suffers from the opposite problem. It is covered so close to the original that is sounds like Six Feet Under just re-tracked the vocals, and it ends up being more of posterity listen than anything particularly enjoyable.

But these faux-pas are more than made up for by the few hidden gems. Prong’s “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” is phenomenal - the syncopated bass crawl, the staccato vocals, gruesome lyrics – all of which is a powerful and arm-breaking return to early 1990’s metal. While Slayer and Metallica get the standard treatment and sound fine, it is Mercyful Fate’s “A Dangerous Meeting” that takes the thrash cover cake. The chug of the bass, combined with the downtuned guitar sludge, quick-fired leads and solos, and Barnes’ vocals, create a song just as compelling as the original; layers and melodies play in ways they shouldn’t and we can’t help but enjoy the horrifying show.

Kudos is in order for not going the true classic route – Six Feet Under did their due diligence and chose deep cuts that really fit their style as well as their tastes. Admittedly, Six Feet Under never really breaks any new ground with their original material, and they don’t here either. “Graveyard Classics 3” isn’t really an album to play front to back, but it doesn’t matter. When one of these ditties forces its way onto the random playlist, the only thing to do will be to pay tribute and rock out.

Highs: Prong and Mercyful Fate covers are just awesome.

Lows: The Ramones and Bachman-Turner Overdrive just lose out with the death groove.

Bottom line: Well done cover album by groove-death experts.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)