Undeath’s Alexander Jones Reacts to Chris Barnes Dissing His ‘Death Metal Round Table’ Interview
Undeath vocalist Alexander Jones was one of the participants in a recent "Death Metal Round Table" interview, which drew criticism from Six Feet Under frontman Chris Barnes, formerly of Cannibal Corpse. Curious to see how the up-and-comer handled hearing the response from the legendary Barnes, we hit up Jones via email to get his thoughts on the ordeal.
The round table discussion, hosted by Knotfest, also featured Cannibal Corpse's George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher, The Black Dahlia Murder's Trevor Strnad and Gatecreeper's Chase Mason. The range of topics covered included how each vocalist first got into death metal, their influences, accessibility in extreme music and more.
Barnes said it made him "physically ill" and that he despises what the death metal genre has become.
Formed in 2018 in Rochester, New York, Undeath cut a pair of demos and release a split before inking a deal with Prosthetic Records for their 2020 debut, Lesions of a Different Kind, which featured a guest appearance by Strnad on the title track. The release gained notoriety in the underground with Undeath striking an ideal balance of chunky death metal and snappy melodicism in just the right the places.
Here, Jones describes first seeing Barnes' criticism of the round table interview, touches on entry points in extreme metal, reveals what he misses most about the old death metal days (it has to do with footwear), and shouts out some killer new age death metal bands.
Read the full interview below and follow Undeath on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify. Look for the band's new album, It's Time... To Rise From the Grave, to be released on April 22 through Prosthetic Records and pre-order your copy here.
Where did you first see that Chris Barnes had responded to the Death Metal Round Table? What was your initial reaction? That had to sting a bit, no?
I opened up twitter and saw that people were mad at Chris Barnes again, which wasn’t a huge surprise to me, but then I saw it was about the round table I was a part of and had a good laugh to myself about it. It didn’t sting - I would have been way more surprised if he had enjoyed it to be perfectly honest.
Chris Barnes said the round table discussion made him “physically ill.” In theory, that’s what good death metal should do to anyone, right? (even though you were all just talking)
Death Metal Round Table — Interview
Have you ever met Chris Barnes in person?
I have not.
One topic covered was the accessibility of death metal in regards to sound (not how easily you can find it on the internet). Over 30 years ago, this genre was not viewed as accessible — quite the opposite. A lot of death metal then was more song-oriented than extreme metal has been over the last 15 years or so.
Is today’s death metal as effective at serving as a gateway or entry point than the ‘classic’ stuff?
I’m not entirely sure, but I think it depends on the person.
Personally speaking, I was exposed to modern bands and the more classic stuff right around the same time, so I developed a pretty healthy appreciation for both [styles] early on. The mentality that a genre such as death metal somehow “died” (pun intended) 20 years ago is the same bullshit line or thinking that old hardcore guys employ when they say that hardcore died in ‘84 or something. There’s tons of exciting bands making more viable death metal than ever before. If you can’t see that then you’re making a choice not to look.
Undeath’s new album seems to be heavily influenced by Cannibal Corpse’s The Bleeding in particular.
I’d argue, at that point in the band’s career, the songwriting was more accessible than the three albums prior, except for maybe “Hammer Smashed Face,” which is the only real universal death metal “hit” song. Would you agree?
We love The Bleeding so I’m sure that influence is in there subconsciously, but Kyle and I have always been more drawn to the Corpsegrinder [era of] Cannibal material. Kill, Evisceration Plague, Vile, etc. - that’s more our wheelhouse.
We were also listening to a ton of Judas Priest around the writing of this record so that’s probably in there too.
Undeath, "Rise From the Grave" Music Video
Is there anything about the classic scene that has gone away and you wish was present today? Please don’t say album sales!
Chunky high top Reeboks (and album sales).
Death metal’s reputation used to be one of violence, Satanism and anti-Christianity and cast its participants as social miscreants who were a threat to polite society and the impressionable youth.
Would death metal be healthier today if everyone just thought you were all axe murderers? Or is it important that this stigma has been shed?
I think the “kayfabe” aspect of metal is important to a lot of bands (and a lot of fans as well), but for us it’s never really been our prerogative to posture as something we’re not.
Look, if you want to try REALLY hard to convince anyone and everyone who listens to your music that you’re a deranged serial murderer with a crawl space full of bodies, more power to you my friend. And if your fans like your music more if they can be convinced you’re a supremely fucked up human being, hey, more power to them as well.
But Undeath is a band full of greasy, perpetually stoned gamers who are just trying to have a good time and play the kind of fun, riffy death metal that we love hearing. Sorry to break the spell, but we’re not going to kill you. We’d gladly have a beer with you, though!
Don’t get me wrong, though - I love plenty of bands who create a mystique or narrative around themselves and work hard to preserve it. I think that can be commendable. It’s just never been our thing. We’re just trying to riff and party.
Who is your favorite death metal vocalist of all time? Why?
Corpsegrinder. He’s the best there’s ever been, no question. Listen to a song like "Sentenced to Burn" or "Devoured by Vermin" and tell me with a straight face there’s a better frontman.
Chris Barnes won’t shill for bands and talk about who he likes. Let’s hear it — what are your favorite new age death metal bands?
Very hard to narrow it down...
Phobophilic (listen here)
Vomit Forth (listen here)
Sanguisugabogg (listen here)
Tomb Mold (listen here)
Malignant Altar (listen here)
Fetid (listen here)
Mortal Wound (listen here)
Mutilatred (listen here)
Undergang (listen here)
Hyperdontia (listen here)