Biography of Chris Barnes
By Tyler Watson, February 18, 2007
Date of Birth: December 29, 1967
Birth Location: Buffalo, New York, USA
Bands Associated With:
Tirant Sin, (Vocalist)
Cannibal Corpse, (Vocalist, lyricist, songwriter, 1988- 1995)
Six Feet Under (Vocalist, 1993-present)
Torture Killer (Vocalist 2005-present)
Considered by many to be the only living grandfather of extreme metal, Chris Barnes has definitely cemented himself eternally into the foundation of the Death metal scene." With 20+ years of stage experience, legions of fans, and writing credits to some of the most graphically disturbing songs in the history of Death metal, Chris Barnes needs little introduction.
Chris Barnes had started his extreme metal career at the age of 19. Primarily Barnes's first band was a Death/Thrash band called Tirant Sin, which had formed in 1986 in Chris's hometown of Buffalo. Other members of Tirant Sin member included drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, guitarists Bob Rusay and Joe Morelli, and bassist Rich Ziegler. During this time period in 1986, Chris was also in yet another New York based Death/Thrash metal band entitled Leviathan who would record a four track demo entitled "Legions of the Undead" in 1987. This demo would one day be available on the 2005 Six Feet Under boxed set entitled “A Decade In The Grave”.
During his 2 year career in Tirant Sin, the band recorded 3 demos. The first was entitled "Chaotic Destruction" and would privately be self released in 1986. Tirant Sin's second demo entitled "Desecration of the Grave" would be self released in 1987. And finally Tirant Sin's third demo entitled "Mutant Supremacy" would be self released in 1988.
In December of 1988, Chris Barnes would go on to form Cannibal Corpse, along with former Tirant Sin bandmates Paul Mazurkiewicz and Bob Rusay. They were also joined by bassist Alex Webster and guitarist Jack Owen from the Buffalo based Thrash metal band Beyond Death.
Cannibal Corpse would ultimately become one of the most pioneering and influential bands of the Death metal scene. The band played their first show at Buffalo's River Rock Cafe in April 1989, shortly after recording a five-song self titled demo tape which is also reffered to as the Skull Full of Maggots demo. Within a year of that first gig, the band would be signed to Metal Blade Records. The 5 songs from the ‘89 demo would also be re-recorded and included on Cannibal Corpse's full length, debut album "Eaten Back To Life" which would be released by Metal Blade Records on August 17, 1990. After hearing that first album, one could already begin to notice the twisted lyrical genius of Chris Barnes. Songs from that album such as "Skull Full of Maggots", "Born in a Casket", and "Shredded Humans" told devastating tales of dismemberment, murder, necrophilia, and other gruesome subjects. These songs as well as others from this album would go on to become fan favorites to this day.
In 1991, Cannibal Corpse recorded and released their second album entitled "Butchered at Birth". After listening to this album, one can definitely hear that Barnes had traded away his raspy, thrash influenced vocal style (which appeared on Eaten Back to Life) and now had begun using a lower pitched, guttural death grunt. Though his vocal abilities on "Butchered at Birth" were not as inhumanly guttural as they would later be on Cannibal Corpse's third album entitled "Tomb of the Mutilated", they had already in fact begun to demonstrate the superior vocal talent that Chris Barnes possessed. Lyrically on "Butchered at Birth" Chris continued to shine as well. He wrote lyrics that were even more lyrically vile and disgusting than before. Classic songs from this album written by Barnes include "Gutted" and the lyrical bloodbath "Meathook Sodomy" to name a few.
In 1992, Barnes and company would write what is considered by many to be the greatest Cannibal Corpse album of all time: "Tomb of The Mutilated". The album is oozing with what some consider being the sickest lyrics ever written in Death metal history at that time, a great example of this would be the lyrics to "Necropedophile". It was on this album that Barnes also wrote the lyrics to what would become Cannibal Corpse's most famous song, "Hammer Smashed Face", which is considered by many fans to be one of the defining songs of the Death metal genre. Vocally on the album, Barnes was at his all time high (or gutturally low brutality wise), recording some of the most guterally low and inhuman bellows as well as high pitched "pig squeals" that still remain in a league of their own to this day. Chris's 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". This has proved to many fans that Chris Barnes was not just a "flash in the pan" vocalist; it had proved that Barnes was a living, breathing, Death metal machine.
1993 was yet another solid year for Cannibal Corpse. They were requested by Jim Carrey himself for a cameo appearance in Carrey's upcoming film "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" where they played a 30 second snippet of "Hammer Smashed Face". To commemorate their 30 second cameo in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, they released their first single "The Hammer Smashed Face EP" on March 23, 1993, which was their only single off of "Tomb Of The Mutilated. During '93 Barnes also formed a side project with Allen West of Obituary called Six Feet Under with would later become Barnes's main priority.
Cannibal Corpse released what would be the final Barnes era full length album "The Bleeding" on April 12, 1994. This album signified a few changes for Cannibal Corpse, primarily the change in speed. The reason for this was because Barnes had decided that he wanted to persue a different musical angle. For this album, he chose a more "groove" style similar to what he was doing in Six Feet Under over Cannibal Corpse's previous material which focused more on blast beats and speed. Vocally on "The Bleeding" Chris had also decided to go for a more "decipherable" approach instead of his previously inhuman bellowing that he had executed on previous Cannibal Corpse albums. Also from "The Bleeding" emerged Cannibal Corpse's first (and only) music video that featured Chris Barnes. The video was created for the track "Staring Through The Eyes Of The Dead".
As Barnes began to spend more and more time focusing on Six Feet Under instead of Cannibal Corpse, he spent less time practicing with his Cannibal Corpse bandmates. Finally during the "Created to Kill" recording sessions in 1995, it was mutually decided by all members of Cannibal Corpse that Chris Barnes who had been a major creative force behind the Cannibal Corpse empire for nearly 7 years… was out of the band.
After his departure from Cannibal Corpse, Chris wasted no time with his now full time project Six Feet Under. They released their full length debut "Haunted" on September 1, 1995, following that up with their "Alive and Dead" EP which was released on October 28, 1996. As the years went by, fans saw SFU release many albums, some of which received poor reviews from fans perhaps due to the fact that Barnes's vocal abilities have deteriorated since his Cannibal Corpse days. This vocal deterioration is probably due to Barnes's longterm use of marijuana. Recently Six Feet Under have just finished recording their 9th full length album entitled "Commandment" which is scheduled for release on April 17, 2007.
Last but not least, as of November 2005 Chris Barnes is also a member of the Finnish Death metal band Torture Killer who credit Six Feet Under as a major influence (the band's name itself was taken from a Six Feet Under song title off of their "Maximum Violence album). He appears on their second full length album entitled "Swarm". This album was Torture Killer's first album to be released by Metal Blade Records. It was released on February 24, 2006.