Six Feet Under (often abbreviated SFU) is an American death metal band, formed as a side project in 1993 by Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes and guitarist Allen West of Obituary. They were joined by bassist Terry Butler, (formerly of Massacre and Death) and drummer Greg Gall, who is Terry Butler's brother-in-law.
Six Feet Under have released nine albums, and are listed by Nielsen Soundscan as the fourth best-selling death metal act, with album sales of 370,660.
After Barnes and West joined forces, Terry Butler was brought into the group, who had previously known West from his involvement with Massacre. The drummer position was filled by Greg Gall, who was interested in being in a band with his brother-in-law. Six Feet Under's first musical activities occurred in 1993, where they played low-profile at clubs and performed mainly cover songs. They didn't have any studio releases for three years, but the band did begin writing material in mid-late 1994. Because Barnes was already on Metal Blade Records due to his involvement with Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under was signed to this label.
They released their first album on September 1, 1995, entitled Haunted. The album was produced by Brian Slagel (discovered Slayer) and Scott Burns (discovered Sepultura, worked with Napalm Death, among others). Unlike either of the members' main bands, Six Feet Under did not originally play guitar solos, and the songwriting was still in a work-in-process stage. However, the grooves and the distinctness of Chris Barnes' vocals were praised in reviews. In due time, because Chris Barnes was making Six Feet Under his main priority, he was discharged from Cannibal Corpse in 1996 when they were in the process of recording Vile.
Six Feet Under's next release was the Alive and Dead EP on October 29, 1996. It is a dual studio/live EP, and contains three studio recordings ("Insect", "Drowning" and a Judas Priest cover, "Grinder") and four tracks from Haunted performed live. The band released their second album, Warpath, on September 9, 1997. The song "4:20" (which showcases the band's love of marijuana) was recorded on April 20, 1997 at 4:20 p.m. and clocks in at four minutes and 20 seconds. "Death or Glory" is a cover of the Holocaust song.
July 13, 1999 saw the release of Six Feet Under's third studio album, Maximum Violence. As the name of the album hints, the lyrics on this release are much more violent than past releases. The band also recorded a death metal version of Kiss' song "War Machine." Steve Swanson brought a revamped crunch to the Six Feet Under sound with his blistering riffs and the inclusion of solos. Maximum Violence sold well (at least 20,000 copies), and led to some unexpected promotional events for the band. During the summer of 2000, Six Feet Under participated in the Vans Warped Tour, a festival that, at the time, usually featured punk rock bands.
Further embracing their interests in cover songs, Six Feet Under released an album consisting purely of covers with Graveyard Classics on October 24, 2000. The songs were given death metal makeovers as far as vocals and bass guitar went, but the original riffs and rhythms in the songs were left intact. Songs include AC/DC's "T.N.T.", Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf", Accept's "Son of a Bitch", Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water", Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze", Dead Kennedys's "California Über Alles", and Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak", among many others.
Six Feet Under undertook a lengthy bout of American tours commencing in the summer of 2002, with supporters Skinless and Sworn Enemy. Their June 14 gig would be recorded for a DVD and live album release, Double Dead Redux. September 2002 saw the band touring with Hatebreed. Around Christmas 2002, they participated in some European festivals with bands such as Kataklysm and Dying Fetus.
The band followed up a couple of years later with Bringer of Blood, debuted on September 23, 2003. The tuning on this album is very dark and murky. In addition to Barnes' trademark guttural vocals, he also began using higher pitched pig squeal vocals on this release.
Graveyard Classics 2 hit shelves on October 19, 2004. This installment of Six Feet Under's cover albums is more focused than the previous, in that this venture focuses solely on the 1980 AC/DC album Back in Black. The death metal-makeover on songs like "Givin' the Dog a Bone", "Let Me Put My Love into You", "Have a Drink on Me" and "Back in Black" are impressive and hilarious at the same time – it's obvious that the band had fun with this release.
Six Feet Under released their seventh studio album on March 21, 2005, entitled 13. While writing the lyrics, Chris Barnes entered "a vision" from smoking lots of marajuana and meditating. The sound quality is good although rather quiet - in the liner notes for the album it suggests turning your speakers up to maximum volume for a better experience. Overall 13 is a notable return to True Carnage-esque form, with songs like the classic death metal of "Shadow of the Reaper" and "Decomposition of the Human Race.
Metal Blade Records issued A Decade in the Grave on October 28, 2005, a five-disc box set. The first two discs are 'best-of' material, CD 3 is a rarities collection, the fourth disc is from one of the band's first concerts back in 1995, and the final disc is a live DVD from 2005.
In November 2005, Chris Barnes joined the Finnish death metal band Torture Killer as lead vocalist for a side project. The other members of the band saw this as a huge compliment, as they started out as a Six Feet Under and Obituary cover band. Barnes sung vocals on their 2006 studio album, Swarm!.
On December 24, 2007, Six Feet Under announced on their website that they would be going to the studio in early 2008 to record a new album. Chris Barnes has officially parted ways with Torture Killer, as announced on January 31, 2008 on the band's official website. Juri Sallinen has taken over the vocals in that band. Greg Gall is currently writing/recording material with a new, yet-to-be-named band. The guitarist spot has been filled by Brian Loyd.
Stylistically, Barnes formed Six Feet Under to pursue his idea of having a death metal band that wasn't just about blast beats and speed. They play a more grooving style of death metal when compared to either Cannibal Corpse or Obituary. However, while most death metal bands play at fast tempos, Six Feet Under often performs slower or mid-tempo paced songs. Barnes' lyrical style didn't change much from his approach with Cannibal Corpse - although they are not quite as shocking as his material with his first band. Today, he mainly writes about violence, gore and death, but some of Six Feet Under's lyrics are also political in nature, such as the legalization of marijuana and criticism of the government. Chris Barnes, one of the pioneers of the death growl, still uses this style, though he has sung with clean vocals on "4:20."
Their death n roll musicality comes from their two Graveyard Classics albums, where the original rock stylings of the songs covered were left intact, but death metal growls and heavy playing styles were utilized.
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