Released: 2004, Metal Blade
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Oh…my…God! In what could very well be the biggest misstep in heavy metal history, Six Feet Under has chosen to pay tribute to one of the most well-known and beloved albums in headbanging history, AC/DC’s BACK IN BLACK. The band released the first installment of GRAVEYARD CLASSICS back in 2000 and took on such icons as Venom, The Scorpions, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and even AC/DC with mixed results. Some were okay, while others were downright painful. When Chris Barnes announced that GRAVEYARD CLASSICS 2 would be released this year, he kept his intentions under wraps of what tracks and bands would actually be recorded. When I first heard that BACK IN BLACK would be given the run through, I simultaneously cringed and raised an eyebrow to just how the boys would handle an album whose songs are known by just anyone who has ever been to a rock concert or turned on an FM radio. Well, the results are in and this was a colossal mistake.
The music is fine and is actually pretty cool in some places. The band stays almost spot on with the exception of tuning down (even the bells on “Hells Bells” are tuned down!) and “What Do You Do For Money” features some unbelievable bass guitar from Terry Butler. Where everything hits the skids is that Barnes never wavers from his trademark growls and grunts. “Shake A Leg” and “Back In Black” suffer the worst fate with the latter’s chorus causing me to look skyward for the rain of frogs as I was sure the apocalypse was near. Barnes could have used this album as an opportunity to show he is more than a shadow of his former self and experimented with some different styles. Instead, his one-note delivery becomes monotonous and just sounds silly.
BACK IN BLACK is a hallowed metal institution. Tampering with it, especially all of it, is akin to tearing up the Bible, pissing on the flag or hitting on your hot 14-year old cousin. Avoid this release at all costs and pick up the original. If you really want to have some fun, though, buy this and blast it at your neighbor--you know, the one with the mullet--while he works on his ’78 Camaro. Then sit back and laugh while you watch him cover his ears and run in horror.