Cannibal Corpse, a prominent figure in the North American death metal scene, has left an indelible mark on the genre since its inception in 1988. As Garza (2021) elucidates in his exploration of post-millennial metal music, the band’s influence extends beyond the confines of music, permeating into the realms of popular culture, censorship debates, and the evolution of extreme metal.
Cannibal Corpse was formed in Buffalo, New York, in 1988, by members Alex Webster, Paul Mazurkiewicz, Jack Owen, Bob Rusay, and Chris Barnes. Their music was characterized by its aggressive style, graphic lyrical content, and complex song structures, which quickly gained them a dedicated following within the underground metal community. Their debut album, ‘Eaten Back to Life,’ released on August 17th, 1990, through Metal Blade Records, set the tone for their future works, with its explicit themes and brutal sound.
Over the years, Cannibal Corpse’s music has evolved, incorporating more technical elements and showcasing their musicianship. Despite lineup changes, including the replacement of vocalist Chris Barnes with George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher in 1995, the band has maintained its signature sound. Their influence on the death metal genre is undeniable, with many bands citing them as a significant inspiration.
Cannibal Corpse’s impact extends beyond music. They have appeared in popular culture, most notably in the 1994 film ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,’ which introduced them to a broader audience. Their graphic album covers and lyrics have sparked debates about censorship and freedom of expression, particularly in the 1990s when they faced bans in several countries.
Cannibal Corpse has been no stranger to controversy, primarily due to their explicit lyrical content and album artwork. Their graphic depictions of violence and gore have often been met with backlash, leading to significant censorship issues. This was particularly prominent in the early 1990s, with countries like Germany banning their albums and live performances until the ban was lifted in 2006.
These controversies, while challenging, have also contributed to the band’s notoriety and have sparked important discussions about artistic freedom and censorship in music. The band’s experience underscores the tension between artistic expression and societal norms, a recurring theme in the discourse surrounding extreme forms of music. This tension has fueled debates about the limits of artistic freedom, the role of censorship, and the societal impact of explicit content in music (McNeill, 2012; Smuts, 2013).
Despite these challenges, death metal icons Cannibal Corpse, lauded for their relentless assault on eardrums worldwide for over 35 years, has continued to evolve and push the boundaries of extreme music. Their sixteenth studio album, ‘Chaos Horrific,’ is anticipated for release on September 22nd, 2023, through Metal Blade Records.
The first single, ‘Blood Blind,’ promises an evolution from its predecessor ‘Violence Unimagined,’ with guitarist Erik Rutan playing a significant role in the creative process. This upcoming release underscores the band’s historical significance in the sphere of extreme music and their commitment to artistic expression, even in the face of controversy, and it is a record that solidifies the band’s distinguished position at the forefront of extreme music.
This subsequent album promises to expand upon the band’s signature abrasive sound, escalating their established sonic ferocity to unprecedented levels. As guitarist and producer Erik Rutan puts it, the approach towards each record is driven by an unrestricted creative flow. Yet, with ‘Chaos Horrific,’ Rutan knew he wanted to explore different territory, pushing the boundaries beyond the framework established by ‘Violence Unimagined.’
His objective was to broaden the sonic palette, traversing new territories while preserving the quintessential Cannibal Corpse essence. The album contains ten tracks, with titles such as ‘Overlords of Violence,’ ‘Frenzied Feeding,’ ‘Summoned for Sacrifice,’ and ‘Pitchfork Impalement.’
The album was recorded at Mana Recording Studios in Florida with producer Erik Rutan, who also played guitar on the album as a replacement for Pat O’Brien. The cover artwork for the album was created by Vincent Locke, who has done all of the band’s previous album covers. It depicts a gruesome scene of mutilation and carnage, as expected from the band.
In synchrony with the album announcement, the band introduced fans to the initial taste of ‘Chaos Horrific’ through the release of the aptly titled single, ‘Blood Blind.’ Accompanied by a full-length music video directed by David Brodsky, known for his work with My Good Eye, the single signifies a potent and disturbing introduction to the band’s latest creative endeavor.
Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz elucidates that ‘Blood Blind’ tackles themes of “mass mutilations to reset the human race in a genocide that was embraced by the masses,” resonating with the band’s thematic penchant for exploring humanity’s dark extremes.
In conjunction with the release of ‘Chaos Horrific,’ Cannibal Corpse recently announced a co-headlining North American tour with Mayhem, set to kick off on the same day as the album’s release. The tour, which also features Gorguts and Blood Incantation, is arguably the strongest extreme-metal tour package of 2023. The tour begins in Nashville and concludes on October 21st in Louisville.
Mayhem, Gorguts, and Blood Incantation are three bands that have significantly contributed to the evolution of extreme metal. Each band has carved out its unique niche within the genre, influencing countless other bands and shaping the sound of extreme metal.
Mayhem, a Norwegian band formed in 1984, is one of the pioneers of the second wave of black metal. Known for their chaotic live performances and controversial history, Mayhem has left an indelible mark on the genre. Their debut album, ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,’ is considered a classic in the black metal genre. Despite numerous lineup changes and tragedies, Mayhem has continued to release music that pushes the boundaries of black metal, solidifying their status as one of the genre’s most influential bands.
Gorguts is a Canadian death metal band formed in 1989. Known for their technical proficiency and complex song structures, Gorguts has been a significant influence on the development of technical death metal. Their album ‘Obscura’ is often cited as a landmark release in the genre, showcasing the band’s innovative approach to songwriting and musicianship. Despite periods of inactivity and lineup changes, Gorguts has maintained their commitment to pushing the boundaries of death metal.
Blood Incantation, formed in Denver, Colorado in 2011, is a relatively newer addition to the death metal scene. However, they have quickly gained recognition for their unique blend of death metal with progressive and psychedelic elements. Their debut album ‘Starspawn’ and the follow-up ‘Hidden History of the Human Race’ have been critically acclaimed for their intricate songwriting and atmospheric soundscapes. Blood Incantation’s music explores themes of cosmology and ancient civilizations, setting them apart from their contemporaries in the genre.
Ticket sales for select dates began on June 22nd, with general ticket sales commencing on June 23rd. The tour represents an opportunity for fans to experience the band’s new material live, further solidifying Cannibal Corpse’s place in the sphere of extreme music.
Cannibal Corpse has a history of memorable performances at various music festivals. One such notable performance was at the inaugural Hell in the Harbor Festival, which took place during the Memorial Day weekend of May 27th and 28th at Baltimore’s iconic Inner Harbor.
The Hell in the Harbor Festival was a two-day event that featured two stages, an outdoor one on Market Place and an indoor one at Baltimore Soundstage. The festival boasted a lineup of prominent acts in the extreme metal genre, including High on Fire, Dying Fetus, and Napalm Death. However, Cannibal Corpse, with their notorious live performances and significant influence on the genre, was one of the main attractions of the festival.
Cannibal Corpse’s performance at the Hell in the Harbor Festival was a testament to their enduring appeal and musicianship. Despite their long history and the evolution of the death metal genre, the band has managed to maintain its signature sound and stage presence. Their performance at the festival was a reminder of their status as one of the genre’s most influential bands.
Ultimately, Cannibal Corpse’s impending release of ‘Chaos Horrific’ reaffirms their enduring contribution to extreme music. As the band continues to evolve their sound, transcending limitations while remaining firmly rooted in their unique style, they continue to define and shape the genre. The unveiling of ‘Blood Blind’ symbolizes this journey, introducing listeners to the band’s latest evolutionary stage while promising more to come.