Six Feet Under – Graveyard Classics IV: The Number of the Priest (Metal Blade)Wednesday, 1st June 2016
“Quality control” is an underrated term. Back in the day (which would be the ’80s), labels actually monitored and subsequently approved/vetoed recorded output. It was their investment, therefore, someone had to ensure it was being put to good use. With Six Feet Under, however, you’d really like to think the normally on-target Metal Blade will have to start standing over Chris Barnes while he’s attempting to put together yet another sonic pigsty. The man’s track record is no longer worth defending after the fourth installment of his Graveyard Classics series, IV: The Number of the Priest.
Consisting of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden covers (each comprising their own half), The Number of the Priest has virtually no novelty aspect to it, probably because Barnes is simply terrible in this context. The notion his brain-dead gurgles would work with melodic material, many of which are metal hallmarks, is preposterous. He takes Halford’s steely, meticulous patterns on “Night Crawler,” “Starbreaker” (one of Priest’s true unsung gems) and “Invader” and absolutely shreds them. Worse, and perhaps even more dubious is his work on Maiden’s “The Evil That Men Do,” where he’s not even in time. He’s literally behind the meter during the verses and chorus. So again, shouldn’t someone have stopped by the studio to check in on this? Or, received some advanced demos and told Barnes these things?
Now, everyone once in a while, Barnes will throw people a bone and release a redeemable album, the most recent being 2012’s Undead. But releases like Graveyard Classics IV only serve to muddle the man’s legacy, which in relation to his previous bands’, is not even in the same stratosphere.