Review Summary: With Crypt of the Devil, Barnes seems to be digging his career legacy deeper into the ground-and taking Six Feet Under with him.
Somewhere in the latest edition of the Metal Hammer (UK) magazine, there's a photo of a very shoddy looking Chris Barnes. The seemingly dirt-ridden dreadlocks and zombified stare of the whites of his eyes suggests that he is completely and utterly devoid of any emotion. Somehow you get the impression that the man has finally realized his best days in music were around two decades ago, and that Six Feet Under was merely a way of continuing his vocal practice. Or maybe not. Nonetheless, 2015 sees the release of Six Feet Under's latest album, the oh-so-scarily titled Crypt of the Devil
. This is an album that was partly constructed by members of Cannabis Corpse, and lazily contributed to by Barnes, the guy who ended up hiring the Cannabis Corpse members in the first place.
Now mock if you will at this next statement, but Crypt of the Devil
is actually OK. You know, the sort of "OK" that resembles Mr. Burns trying his best to do a thumbs up whilst thinking at the same time of evil world domination. Instrumentally as a matter of fact, it's mostly a decent, solid effort. The decision to hire the drug-addled (or not, they could just be making everything up) members of Cannabis Corpse-who incidentally devote their time and attention to Chris Barnes' involvement in the Cannibal Corpse camp-actually proves a good career move. The rhythm section has a real strong power to it, making for an all-round solid base which, although completely predictable, turns out to be a good 30+ minutes of your time. The likes of opener "Gruesome", "Open Coffin Orgy" and "Stab" (the song titles here are really thoughtful, aren't they kids") will probably go on to power up SFU's setlists for years to come, simply because of how headbang-worthy they are. There's a little bit of versatility here and there, such as in the groovier likes of "Slit Wrists" and "Break the Cross in Half", and it only goes to show the level of commitment and effort produced by Barnes' hired gun, if you will.
And then there's the star of the show himself, Mr. Barnes. You know, if the current voice actor of The Simpsons' Mr. Burns took several throat-ruining drugs, gargled treacle and tried to sing opera, Chris Barnes could safely take a shot at replacing him. And maybe succeed at doing so. As much as I don't want to talk about Barnes' increasingly irritating vocal involvement on Crypt of the Devil
, I can't quite get away from the idea either. As instrumentally decent as this album is, you can count on Barnes to always mess up the commitment of his current band members. As solid as virtually every song on here (bar the overall lacklustre "Slit Wrists" and "The Night Bleeds") is, Barnes just drags everything down with him to the ever-deepening monotonous grave. The most frustrating thing is, you somehow know Barnes could sound better if he just tried
. It's like trying to explain to a petulant schoolboy at parent's evening that he's hitting the predicted grades each and every time, but that he's also capable of reaching a higher standard. That's the impression you get when hearing Barnes' vocal delivery. The end result is akin to having a long, earth-shattering belch after rushing to eat your favourite curry and guzzling a few beers on a lazy Sunday evening.
As it turns out then, Crypt of the Devil
is simply average, without the musical components actually being average themselves. If you were to produce a scorecard based out of 5 for instrumentation and vocal effort each, the results would probably be weighed as thus: 3 for instrumental performance, 2 for vocal delivery. So with the pros and cons weighed, it turns out to be an average result. And I say again, it's so frustrating because you know Crypt of the Devil
could have become a better all-round record if Barnes simply, well, gave
a little. Just a little, mate. We're not asking for too much.