SIX FEET UNDER, Graveyard Classics (2000, Metal Blade)
Two grubby hands hold a skull freshly plucked (it is presumed) from the grave. I do appreciate that the hands are placed in such a posture as to maximize the viewable area of the skull, even though no one would ever pick up a spheroid in that fashion. But perhaps the hands belong to a blind novice bowler groping to find the finger holes. His asshole friends titter in the background as he thinks, “This bowling alley smells awfully peaty, and I think this ball is broken.” Big, dumb, and skullacious, this cover is easily the greatest artistic success of this band’s entire career.
Six Feet Under were founded at the start on a stupefying premise: “What if you assembled the worst members of Death, Obituary, and Cannibal Corpse to form an all new band?” While there have always (and inexplicably) been Chris Barnes partisans, I’m pretty sure no one ever said or thought the following: “Cause of Death would be SO much better if Alan West was on it,” and “I like Human, but I really miss Terry Butler.” This is basically the worst imaginable band, the literal antipode to excellence, and from day one, they made it their mission to deliver on that promise of musical misery. Still, no hapless listener could have prepared himself for the galactic enormity of Graveyard Classics, an unfathomable covers compilation insulting the hard rock legends who theoretically (if not audibly) influenced this shittiest of bands. It’s bad enough to hear SFU mangle the likes of “Hell’s Bells” or “Purple Haze,” but Savatage? Angel Witch? The Hague has adjudicated atrocities of lesser magnitude. Barnes’s growl, the worst in the history of death metal, is patently without charm or nuance, and he adds absolutely nothing in the way of rhythm or menace to make up for the vocal melodies he displaces. Unadorned by reverb or delay, his flaccid gurgle is the vile mold atop a weeping, rancid cheese. That so many of these songs are slowed down doesn’t sound like an aesthetic choice so much as a necessary one, adopted when it was realized no one could play “Smoke on the Water” at tempo. For as bad as Six Feet Under’s original albums are, Graveyard Classics is unquestionably worse, but in abject defiance of good taste and sanity, it was evidently popular enough to prompt TWO sequels. To everyone who bought this album I feel compelled to say, “You are the worst person in the world.” I mean it.
— Friar Johnsen