Six Feet Under has done this before. Their second Graveyard Classics album was a tribute to the three or four chords AC/DC has been mixing up since the ’70s and with their fourth dip into their collective record collection, 6FU has gone and done the obvious, or what would eventually have become obvious, and emerged with a tribute to the grandpappies of metal, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.

First things first, is anyone else absolutely flabbergasted and amazed that there are now four of these cover version monstrosities available and walking the earth? Let’s face it, whether or not you’re a fan of the band, 6FU’s brand of death metal is designed to poke the primordial center of metal-dom’s brain stem and have the foreheads of perfectly evolved home sapiens slope into caveman-like proportions. If dumbing down death metal was an internationally recognised sport, then 6FU would have stolen the thunder from Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner years ago.

Taking on this mixed collection of classics and deep cuts (or B-sides, in keeping with the old-school theme) isn’t a mind searing challenge. As timeless as songs like “Nightcrawler,” “Never Satisfied” and “Invader” (on the Priest side) and “Total Eclipse,” “The Evil that Men Do” and “Stranger in a Strange Land” (on the Maiden side of the deck), none of these songs is particle theory deconstruction and most have been tackled by other artists on numerous occasions giving 6FU and future hat-tippers a variety of reference points. Being a metal band covering metal songs, it’s no surprise that vocalist Chris Barnes and company keep things on a short leash and straight and narrow plane. Though that doesn’t prevent a startling majority of these renditions from being turned out as simplistic, rote and bereft of the sort of wide-eyed energy that originally drove those tunes. In fact, it’s not a bet against staggering odds to imagine that if these tunes weren’t already been embedded deep in our psyches, they’d come across more like a bar band churning out standard fare between periods so the assemblage at Joey’s Pub and Grub wouldn’t; have to listen to Don Cherry bloviate between periods.

As the lone original member, Barnes is 6FU’s de-facto leader, but it’s his performance that brings the most shameful waves crashing down on this exercise. Not only is his gruff, double-tracked death grunting unsuited for the likes of “Flash of the Blade,” “Starbreaker” and “Genocide,” his performance is haphazard and sloppy. He misses more cues than I do when playing billiards, the elegant phrasing of the originals are relegated to formless growling and he does unimaginable by making Paul Di’anno sound like a timeless genius with his offerings of “Prowler” and “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” As always, 6FU’s Graveyard Classics are good for a smile and chuckle, but show me the person who’s bopping down the street with this in his/her headphones and I’ll show you someone who has a collection of bus transfers and baby raccoon skulls mounted in their pantry.

Track Listing:

01. Night Crawler
02. Starbreaker
03. Genocide
04. Invader
05. Never Satisfied
06. Murders in the Rue Morgue
07. Prowler
08. Flash of the Blade
09. The Evil That Men Do
10. Stranger in a Strange Land
11. Total Eclipse

Run Time: 50:27
Release Date: May 27, 2016

Check out the song “Invader”.