Masochism is defined as “A willingness or tendency to subject oneself to unpleasant or trying experiences.” I’ve often referred to myself as a masochist, but nothing has ever justified that labeling as much as my willingness to listen to and review the latest covers collection from Six Feet Under.
What started out as a laughable novelty in 2000 with the band regurgitating such inappropriate tracks as “Son of a Bitch” (Accept), “Stepping Stone” (The Monkees), and “Purple Haze” (Jimi Hendrix) took a turn for the ridiculous in 2004 with their decision to release a second edition that covered the entirety of AC/DC’s Back In Black album. With absolutely no redeeming value, we all hoped that we had seen the last of their cover albums. I guess the inclusion of Motley Crue’s “Bastard” on 2008’s Death Rituals snoozefest should have been an omen, because here we are in 2010 with Graveyard Classics 3. As unwarranted and unwanted as it may be, it very well could be the best one yet – but in SFU terms, that isn’t saying much.
Musically, they hit it out of the park, or at least off the wall for extra bases. Good tones, good production, and surprisingly sharp playing bring out the powerful vibe of Metallica’s “The Frayed Ends of Sanity,” Twisted Sister’s “Destroyer,” and even Prong’s “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” You really don’t mind rocking out to these versions despite their most obvious flaw. That, of course, is the limited vocal ability (and that’s being nice) of one Chris Barnes. It’s not even so much the usual reasons: that he sounds like he’s got a mouthful of marbles, can’t carry a tune in a bucket, etc. (although that is easily the case on Mercyful Fate’s “A Dangerous Meeting”) It’s the fact that he has no inflection whatsoever, grunting the lyrics in a steady monotone that strips them of all character. He almost gets away with it on Slayer’s “At Dawn They Sleep,” but fails with Exciter’s “Pounding Metal” and The Ramones’s “Psychotherapy,” two songs and bands where the vocals are particularly crucial.
Since I’ve name dropped most of the tracks already, let me just finish up. Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Not Fragile” is the album’s low point. An excruciating listen, but it least it wasn’t “Taking Care of Business.” Faring slightly better is Van Halen’s “On Fire,” but only slightly. They play it and it’s there – nothing spectacular. Finally, I have to question the inclusion of the Anvil classic “Metal on Metal,” if only because any band that praises Anvil these days is suspected of cashing in on their newfound popularity.
At this point, anyone with knowledge of Six Feet Under, the source material, and a vivid imagination can pretty much figure out exactly what their renditions will sound like, so in that regard, at least I was prepared for what awaited. The band will likely tour behind the release, and the stoned, Neanderthalic death metal masses will scream and hoot when they bust out any of these songs, and most frighteningly, we can probably expect Graveyard Classics 4 by the year 2015. Then again, they may decide to rush one out in 2012 just in time for the suspected apocalypse. After all, they’ve never been shy about cashing in to make a quick buck.