And the time rolls round for one of Six feet Under’s “alternate” albums, this time themed on Judas Priest (5 tracks) and Iron Maiden (6 tracks). I like the way that Chris Barnes and his cohorts chuck these albums out once in a while to pay tribute to their influences, regardless of the fact that they’re in a different sub-genre of the rock/metal spectrum.
Volume IV of the Graveyard Classics series comes before a short European run for the band playing nothing but cover songs – the first, and apparently last, time they will do this. I’m gutted they’re not hitting the UK with this miniature tour, especially as it seems there won’t be a next time!
To some extent The Number of the Priest is more of the same for those familiar with the earlier releases. That is music which is pretty much faithful to the original with Chris Barnes’ distinctive vocals over the top. There are minimal changes to a couple of tracks – maybe a key change here or there, or a little change in tempo – but overall if these were instrumentals they’re be pretty faithful to the originals.
Barnes, however, makes great use of his scary vocals. Predominantly we have the traditional death grunt, but given that he’s covering songs by two of metal’s best known high-pitched air raid sirens, he’s had to employ some near-screams in one or two places.
What I particularly like about this compilation is the choice of tracks. It’s definitely not a “best of” for either band. All of the tracks picked are great, but they’re not the obvious options. Think of Priest and, to me, tracks like “Breaking The Law”, “The Sentinel”, “Electric Eye” and “Painkiller” are the first I think of. For Maiden, it would be “The Trooper”, “Can I Play With Madness”, “Fear of the Dark” and “Number of the Beast”.
None of these are on here.
That’s not to say that it’s a poor choice. Anything but. I like that the band have gone for less popular songs because it highlights the depths of the original artists as well as making this album a bit stronger and more interesting. The track list is below and I confess I only knew “Night Crawler” from the Priest segment before listening – I’m a bigger Maiden fan.
I’m really glad to hear “Flash of the Blade” and “The Evil That Men Do” being covered as they’re personal favourites and I can’t remember ever hearing the former being played live by Maiden in the times I’ve seen them.
Checking some comments about the first couple of tracks posted online by the band, some people commented on the production – Chris’ voice was targeted as not mixing too well with the music, as if it was recorded very separately and just chucked over the top. There are one or two places where, if you’re listening for that kind of thing, you might notice it but overall I can’t personally say I’ve any complaints.
Six Feet Under have done a great job as ever, and this little treat is a nice stopgap until they churn out another album of more brutal, original material.
Side A: Judas Priest
1. Night Crawler
4. Invader (featuring Fates Warning’s Ray Alder)
5. Never Satisfied
Side B: Iron Maiden
6. Murders in the Rue Morgue
8. Flash of the Blade
9. The Evil That Men Do
10. Stranger in a Strange Land
11. Total Eclipse