Death metal has been reinterpreting the classics for years. I remember Six Feet Under’s unfathomable version of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”, Decapitated’s insane cover of  Slayer’s “Mandatory Suicide” and even Arch Enemy’s unlikely rendition of Queensryche’s “Walk in the Shadows”. Whether you love it or hate it, this type of morbid homage has really gained momentum over the years. Honestly, I still can’t decide whether these interpretations are truly a tribute to metal or a wry shot at an icon.

Believe it or not this is actually the fourth installment of Graveyard Classics. The current release entitled The Number of the Priest includes five Judas Priest covers and six by Iron Maiden. The selections were apparently chosen by Metal Blade Records’ CEO Brian Slagel.

If you are familiar with classic metal songs like “Starbreaker” or “Stranger in a Strange Land” it can be hard to listen to these ghoulish presentations. Musically, this is a ‘spot-on’ rendition although there are some irregular variations in regards to overall tempo and speed. I’ll admit l hated Graveyard Classics at first. I thought Chris Barnes butchered these timeless tracks. It was a violation of my youth and I was fucking pissed. But you know what? After hearing these songs over and over, a strange thing happened, I started to like it.

The Number of the Priest album convinced me Judas Priest and Iron Maiden could be reborn as death metal bands! I can imagine Rob Halford rising from the grave a zombie and belting out a guttural version of “Night Crawler”! The classic metal riff that fuels the song would translate well into the world of death metal. That being said, I started to look at this release as more of a death metal re-invention instead of a musical homage. Barnes’ unique vocal style makes these graveyard tunes come alive. Some of these songs really knock this concept out of the park. Highlight tracks for me are: “Night Crawler”, “Invader”, “Genocide”. “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “Flash of the Blade”.

Chris Barnes is a death metal legend but not because he’s old or has enjoyed a lengthy career. He’s a legend because his trademark delivery and stage presence are unrivaled in metal. Graveyard Classics IV will only add to his mystique because it features what Barnes does best, sounding like a homicidal flesh-eating creature risen from the grave! \m/

Graveyard Classics IV: The Number of the Priest track-listing
Side A: Judas Priest
01. Night Crawler
02. Starbreaker
03. Genocide
04. Invader
05. Never Satisfied
Side B: Iron Maiden
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

Six Feet Under are:

  • Ray Suhy – Bass, Guitars
  • Josh Hall – Drums
  • Chris Barnes – Vocals


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