Simply put, AC/DC's Back in Black is one of the biggest albums of any genre of any time anywhere. In December 2019, the Recording Industry Association of America announced that Back in Black has sold 25 million copies in the U.S. alone — more than the Beatles' White Album, Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II, and Pink Floyd's The Wall. It's the best-selling hard-rock album of all time, right above Led Zeppelin IV. Globally, it's sold an estimated 50 million copies, making it the No. 2 most popular album in history worldwide, topped only by Michael Jackson's Thriller.
As such, Back in Black has influenced many musicians who have followed in the band and the album's wake. One of those artists is current Six Feet Under/former Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes. We talked to the death-metal icon about his favorite tracks, how he compares Brian Johnson to Bon Scott, and what it was like covering the album in its entirety as SFU's Graveyard Classics 2.
TALK ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARD BACK IN BLACK, AND HOW YOU DISCOVERED IT.
I was at a record store outside of Buffalo, New York, looking for a new album on cassette and saw the display for the new AC/DC album and I had to get it. I loved Dirty Deeds so I had to get the new one! I played it so much my dad got mad at me one day while driving and threw it out the car window. I bought another.
SIX FEET UNDER COVERED BACK IN BLACK IN ITS ENTIRETY, OF COURSE, AS GRAVEYARD CLASSICS 2. WHY THAT ALBUM? WHAT DOES BACK IN BLACK MEAN TO YOU?
To me ... it's a perfect album.
DID YOU GAIN NEW RESPECT FOR BACK IN BLACK AFTER MAKING GRAVEYARD CLASSICS 2?
I had so much already so it didn't for me. But I know our guitarist at the time, Steve Swanson, did. He expressed to me after his recording session how the guitar parts were a lot more difficult than he expected, and I think It was challenging and opened up a lot of ideas for him.
BACK IN BLACK IS, OF COURSE, AC/DC'S FIRST ALBUM WITH BRIAN JOHNSON. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BRIAN AS COMPARED TO BON SCOTT?
I tend to listen to the Brian Johnson stuff more because I grew up seeing AC/DC back in the day during that era and never got to see Bon Scott live, although I did visit his grave in 1995 when I was on tour with Cannibal Corpse in Australia, which ended up being my last tour with the band.
BEYOND GRAVEYARD CLASSICS 2, HAS BACK IN BLACK INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT, OR THE WAY YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING MUSIC?
No, I don't think so. Not on that level. It was challenging recording the album for us as a band because we had so much respect for Back in Black ... and we worked so hard at playing the songs exactly like the original album — so much so that we recorded all of our parts to the original album, so that if you play both albums at the same time they are synched up.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE BACK IN BLACK SONG AND WHY?
The whole album is like one song to me. Takes you on a journey..
IS BACK IN BLACK SOMETHING YOU REGULARLY GO BACK AND LISTEN TO?
Not that often [honestly]. I probably go back to For Those About to Rock more at this point — probably because it was the first time I saw AC/DC live.