Chris Barnes (musician)

Chris Barnes
Birth name Chris Barnes
Born December 29, 1966 (1966-12-29) (age 44)
Genres Death Metal, Death 'N' Roll
Occupations Musician, Vocalist, Guitarist, Producer, Lyricist
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1986–present
Labels Metal Blade
Associated acts Six Feet Under
Torture Killer
Cannibal Corpse

Chris Barnes (born December 29, 1966) is an American singer-songwriter, best known as a death metal vocalist recognized for his very low guttural vocals and explicitly violent lyrics. He was the vocalist and lyricist of death metal band Cannibal Corpse (from 1988–1995), later working as part of Six Feet Under and was featured on Finnish death metal band Torture Killer's second album Swarm!. Barnes designed the original Cannibal Corpse logo, the Six Feet Under logo and also created the artwork for Warpath released in 1997.



Early career

Chris Barnes had started his extreme metal career at the age of 19. Primarily Barnes' first band was a Death/Thrash band called Tirant Sin, which had formed in 1986 in Chris' hometown of Buffalo. Other members of Tirant Sin included drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, guitarists Bob Rusay, Cam V and Joe Morelli, and bassist Rich Ziegler. Also in 1986, Chris quit Tirant Sin to join yet another New York-based Death/Thrash metal band named Leviathan that would record the four track demo "Legions of the Undead" in 1987. Legions of the Undead was re-released on the 2005 Six Feet Under box set A Decade in the Grave.

Tirant Sin recorded three demos. The first, "Desecration of the Graves," was privately self-released in February 1987. His second demo, "Chaotic Destruction," was independently released in the fall of 1987, with Dennis John on vocals. His third demo, "Mutant Supremacy," was independently released in 1988. Barnes appeared only on the third demo, when he re-joined Tirant Sin in January 1988.[1][2][3]

1988-1995: Cannibal Corpse

Barnes wrote all of the lyrics on the albums Butchered at Birth through The Bleeding, and wrote the lyrics on Eaten Back to Life with the rest of the band helping.[4]

When asked in an interview what his favorite Cannibal Corpse album that he worked on was, he commented "I love them all, I really do. I really enjoyed them all." In the same interview when he was asked about his time with the band, he responded "I look back on it with a lot of fond memories. It was pretty much my starting point - it wasn't exactly my starting point, but it was as a professional musician. I think that I really helped bring about a certain style of music, and with that band I really outlined what most people think death metal vocals sound like - I'm part of that. I'm really proud of the imagery, and the lyrical stories that I put together on all those albums. We set out to conquer the world though, and I think we did as far as our corner of the world was concerned."

Barnes left Cannibal Corpse in 1995 because of his personal differences with the rest of the band members and supposedly, his increasingly poorer vocal performance. Barnes was then able to devote his full attention to the band Six Feet Under, which had been his side project since 1992. Barnes has commented that he is "very proud of what I've done with them."

"Being booted out of Cannibal Corpse was pretty memorable but in a good way. I didn't feel I was able to write the way I wanted to so it was a good transition for me."[5]

There were speculations about Barnes returning to Cannibal Corpse, which were denied by Alex Webster: "We have no plans to do anything with Chris Barnes ever again. It's not something any of us are interested in doing."[6] "it's nothing against him, but we prefer to move forward rather than live in the past."[7]

1995-present: Six Feet Under

In 2005, Six Feet Under released 13, their 6th full-length album, an album that Chris also produced.

In the same year Six Feet Under released A Decade in the Grave, a box set highlighting the past 10 years of Six Feet Under.

With the success of two death metal bands already under his belt (Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under), Chris Barnes joined the Finnish death metal band Torture Killer in the fall of 2005. At the time, Barnes said he was fully committed to the band, and appeared on the band's second album Swarm!, which was released on February 24, 2006. However, he left the band in January 2008.

Six Feet Under released the album Commandment on April 17, 2007 to highly positive views. Chris Barnes has stated "Commandment" is his favorite album, claiming to have received over 5,000 messages in support, many fans cite it as their favorite Six Feet Under release since 2003's Bringer of Blood.

On November 11, 2008, Six Feet Under released their newest album Death Rituals. It saw the band returning to Morrisound studios in Tampa, FL with Chris Carroll at the helm with mixing duties being handled by Toby Wright (Slayer, Korn, In Flames, Fear Factory, etc.) and the return old friend Bill Metoyer, who recorded the band's CD Warpath, helping out with recording of the drums. The album includes 13 songs including the Mötley Crüe cover Bastard and the ambient song Crossroads To Armageddon.

On January 16, 2009, a message appeared on Six Feet Under's website:

Just wanted to let all of our fans know that we are currently in the studio working on Graveyard Classics 3. We are about 60% finished with tracking. Everything is going great and we are having a lot of fun laying these new songs down. more info and track listing to come!![8]

Social involvement

Support For Marijuana Law Reform

Since departing from Cannibal Corpse after The Bleeding, Chris Barnes slightly shifted his lyrical focus towards more sociopolitical issues, the most prominent of which being the legalization of marijuana. The album Warpath contains two songs pertaining to marijuana, the first being "4:20," which praises the effects of the plant and the second being "Caged and Disgraced" that calls into question detaining individuals for marijuana possession. Also included in the albums liner notes is the website for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and it is pointed out that the song "4:20" (which is 4 minutes and 20 seconds in length) was recorded on April 20 at 4:20pm, the national day and traditional time for smoking marijuana.

Maximum Violence contains the song "Victim of the Paranoid," which is another examination of marijuana laws, asserting marijuana users are victims of a system that is too worried about marijuana users and neglects other more pressing issues. Chris Barnes, much like Pantera's Phil Anselmo, has been known to smoke marijuana passed to him during a live performance and vocally praise the herb both on stage and in interviews.

Death metal

Vocal styles

Barnes is known for his rather extreme vocal style, which consists of low and snarled death growls that have been described by as "thunderous" and "like Satan on a diet of razor blades and paint thinner".[9] He has also been praised for the fact that his famous growls have never been manipulated or enhanced by a recording studio. He also seems skilled at raspy screams, exemplified in the songs "Hammer Smashed Face," "I Cum Blood," "Post Mortal Ejaculation," "Pulverized," "Fucked with a Knife," and "Stripped, Raped and Strangled." Ironically, in interviews he is known for having a very soft voice and for being very mellow.

Chris' vocals on "Tomb of The Mutilated" were so inhumanly guttural, that inside the booklet of the album there is a message that states "Electronic Harmonizer was not used to create any vocals on Tomb of the Mutilated."[1]

In an interview, he said the following about his early singing aspirations:

I was really enamored with Gene Simmons from Kiss and the whole visual idea of a demon being a singer in a band, which kind of stuck with me in a way. When I saw Kiss in 1978, 1979 for the first time as an eleven or twelve-year-old kid, I was really enthralled. I felt “Wow! This is a live performance,” and I really loved Simmons and what he was doing. At another level I kept listening to music and it got more and more heavy, and then at one point as a teenager I said “Well I love this music so much, so I think maybe I could do that also.” At that point, I started singing along to my favorite albums by Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Venom and so on. I'd sing along to the tape, and I'd try to sing like those guys would in those bands. It just progressed from there really. When I was in my first year at college in the university, I was in a band at that point writing original music. It was the most fun in my life, and being in school I didn't really know what I wanted to do so I wasn't really sure of my place. I just thought to myself one day when I was in school, I said “I don't want to be here.” As a result, I got up, walked out, got in my car, and then cranked it up. I drove up to rehearsal and said “This is what I want to do.”

Musical tastes

Barnes is a big fan of metal pioneers Black Sabbath, which is why Cannibal Corpse did a cover of "Zero the Hero" (one of Barnes' favorite Black Sabbath songs) on the Hammer Smashed Face EP.

When asked about George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, his vocal replacement for Cannibal Corpse, he said “I know George is a good singer, though he wouldn't have been my choice personally. I kind of like it though because he was never able to sing my songs better than me; that's always made me feel proud, that I was able to write songs that couldn't be imitated. I think he does a great job though, and he's a real nice guy.”

He lists Grateful Dead as his favorite band on Six Feet Under's official website.


Barnes says that thinking about death with his song lyrics has made him very sensitive to the fragility of human existence and life.

In an interview he stated that he believes in reincarnation and has also said, "I think there are many hints in life, such as familiarity with certain things, that are unexplainable. These are possibly explainable by the idea of having lived before, which is what I think. My dreams seem very real, and I tap into those places." He also stated that he believes everything is a learning experience. "We're here for a reason, and we're gifted by life for sure."

"Ever since I discovered Edgar Cayce back in the early 90s I've definitely been aware of a lot of things that have been happening in the world and set my eye on things and just been very aware of some of his writings and I recognize that a few of his prophecies have already come true and have opened that world consciousness that will hopefully change those prophecies because that's a possibility. But for the most part the way things have been going it seems that doomsday is pretty close."[10]

Feud with Seth Putnam

There had been friction between Barnes and Anal Cunt's late vocalist Seth Putnam. According to Putnam's website, Seth heckled Barnes during the Six Feet Under set, leading to an altercation between the two ending with Six Feet Under's roadies ganging up on Putnam while Barnes fled to his tour bus. Putnam released the song, "Chris Barnes is a Pussy" as retaliation to the incident.[11]


While on the set of Ace Ventura, Chris admitted to Jim Carrey that the way his neck contorted while doing "Fire Marshall Bill" grossed him out. To which Carrey responded, "What? This? This grosses you out? All that shit you write and that little thing grosses you out?"[12]

"I like a well-told story, something that's directed well in a different way, anything, even commercials. It doesn't have to be underground or horror films, lately I've been getting into more horror stuff but I've kind of eased off and been watching different types of films, you know, back into that. I like all sorts of stuff, it just has to be a well-told story, like everything coming from the writers look. I mean, special effects and that type of stuff doesn't impress me that much more subtle effects do, I mean, I know of the editing process and that doesn't really do anything for me, you know, the magic's taken out. I just like a well-written story with something that just looks really direct."[13]

"I never was one for fashion or trying to impress people. I just wanted to do the best I could and feel good about what I do and be proud of the time that I put into my art and that's how I feel about it. When it stops becoming fun for me and when it starts becoming upsetting to see where it goes is the day that I just put it aside and let my bodies of works speak for me. Hopefully that day doesn't come too soon but we'll see what happens."[10] "I think that I'm just a normal guy. I'm not a super hero or a character in a magazine, I'm just a regular person and I think that's the biggest thing. I don't know if that would surprise anybody but I hope that it would kind of give some people some insight. I'm not a monster." "I've always been kind of mellow so I think that does surprise people when they speak to me or hang out with me or something, he's not crazy! I just enjoy life, I enjoy doing what I do and I'm not a character in a book or in a movie. So that's it, I'm a real person and I'm here. I think a lot of people have pre-conceived notions of what I'm like because they've read a bunch of crazy lyrics over the years. Those are my thoughts but I don't live that way in everyday life. I think I'd be in jail for 25 years now if I would have."[10]


Six Feet Under

Cannibal Corpse

Torture Killer

  • Swarm! (2006)

Sources Chris Barnes lives in Florida.


  1. ^ a b Biography of Chris Barnes
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Cannibal Corpse interview
  5. ^ Six Feet Under interview with Chris Barnes
  6. ^ Official Cannibal Corpse Forum |
  7. ^ CoC : Cannibal Corpse : Interview
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c Six Feet Under Interview with Chris Barnes in Support of Commandment
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore ISBN 1-932595-04-X
  13. ^ [] Chris Barnes (Interview)

External links

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