Six Feet Under began in 1993 as a side project that Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes was working on with Obituary guitarist Allen West. After tensions in Cannibal Corpse came to a head, Chris was forced to leave the band. Chris’s departure from Cannibal Corpse was the end of an era for them and the beginning of an era for Six Feet Under. Cannibal Corpse went on to continue a tradition of musical excellence with their new frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, while Six Feet Under began their legacy of what many fans might consider to be mediocrity in comparison to Cannibal Corpse. However, there are some bright spots here and there, and their debut album is most certainly one of them.
“Haunted” was released in 1995 with Chris Barnes on vocals, Allen West on lead and rhythm guitars, Terry Butler on bass and Greg Gall on drums. Any fan who was hoping Six Feet Under were going to sound anything like Cannibal Corpse was sorely disappointed. Haunted has a sludgy, groove based sound that’s more like what you would expect from Obituary, or Bolt Thrower. It’s brilliant in it’s simplicity. There’s nothing too complicated about it, and it delivers the heavy, straightforward, chugging guitar riffs you would expect from Allen West.
Barnes uses a completely different vocal approach on Haunted. You can understand all of his lyrics, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best vocal contributions of his career. Chris’s lyrics on Haunted are pretty much what you would expect: axe murder, torture, disembowelment, rotting flesh, post-mortem mutilation, deadly infection etc. However, some tracks aren’t gore based which is refreshing. For example, “Lycanthropy” is about being infected by the blood of a werewolf and becoming one of the pack, and “Beneath a Black Sky” is about the blackening of the sun and suffering in the dying world beneath. Chris Barnes can write great lyrics when he chooses to not focus on gore and shock value. The one aspect of this album that really stands out is Terry Butler’s bass work. The bass is distinct and roars like an engine. It’s the driving force behind each track on the album.
Haunted marked a major turning point in death metal. It was a game changer, and it’s a must listen for any death metal fan who hasn’t heard it.