Listen to enough U.S. talk radio these days, and one could believe he or she lives in the land of a vintage Vince Locke Cannibal Corpse album cover. On a pink Miami highway ramp lie two leaking men: one is stripped, ass-up, and stiff, bleeding out from a bullet hole in the back. The other specimen, face chewed off by naked guy, somehow still gasps. In New Jersey, one of the undead fights the power with his own entrails, tossing bloody chunks of intestines at police who until then were wondering why he was stabbing himself. Shuttered New York City punk club CBGB attempts a reboot in the form of a festival, only to see a former member of Cro-Mags reportedly slash and bite two current members – finding a leg bone protruding through his flesh in the process.
Turn off the radio, fire up iTunes. The wretched “CHOMP!” follows: relentless, guttural, disturbing, puzzling. Did the Mayans predict death metal?
Torture (Metal Blade) is the score for the zombie apocalypse, a storm of cruel time-signature changes, infectious bite, and Hungry Hungry Sado lyrics suitable for tomorrow’s sick-shit talking points. It’s Cannibal Corpse’s 12th studio album (eighth with ex-Monstrosity vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher) and arguably the first in which the most notorious act’s necrophilic living-dead fiction approaches the day’s truth.
Death metal has lost some of its shock value in these inglorious times, but as founding drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz affirms from a tour stop in Wroclaw, Poland, you won’t find Torture at Walmart . . . yet. Cannibal Corpse headlines Summer Slaughter August 16th at House Of Blues.
Mosh: What did you hope to accomplish with Torture?
Paul Mazurkiewicz: Well, I think we just went into the writing and recording process to do the best job that we could. We actually always try to do the best we can on any given release. It is very important to us to keep giving it our all and try to become better musicians and songwriters. I think Torture is some of the best work we’ve ever done.
M: In the early days, you boasted that you didn’t use electronic harmonizers or triggers on your albums. Was this the case with Torture? We know George doesn’t cup the mic.
PM: Back in the early days we didn’t have time for a lot of things to be done in the studio but play. Of course, the technology is much more advanced these days and we have more time to record, so we do utilize things like triggering and things of this nature. But yes, there is never anything done to the vocals. And with no cupping! Ha ha.
M: “Encased In Concrete” and “Intestinal Crank” are nearly as unbridled as anything off 1990’s Eaten Back To Life while touching on the technicality of modern math feats such as 2004’s “Frantic Disembowelment.” How carefully do you incorporate the special ingredients from the different eras of the band when making new music?
PM: Well, I think the focus of the band has stayed intact throughout our entire career: to make brutal, in-your-face death metal. We are always trying to do something a little different with each song but still retain the Cannibal sound. If you listen to all of our releases, they all sound a bit different, but they are all pure Cannibal Corpse records.
M: All the music on 1996’s Vile – besides guitar solos and vocals – were recorded before original vocalist Chris Barnes (Six Feet Under) went in to sing. During rehearsals the band said it was dissatisfied with Barnes’ lyrics. On the Centuries Of Torment DVD set, bassist Alex Webster says, “There were certain things that he loved that we did not want him to use.” Then you fired Barnes. What was wrong with his lyrics?
PM: We just felt he was getting a little stale and redundant. Also, we felt his vocals were not up to par with what we wanted.
M: Was there ever a point in your career when you thought, you know, maybe we shouldn’t go there? That’s a little much, perhaps?
PM: Actually, no.
M: It’s evident you were initially influenced by pre-death-metal bands like Kreator (Germany) and The Accused (Seattle), as well as the first death-metal bands in Tampa, where the band eventually relocated. But Cannibal Corpse is from Buffalo. What was going on in Buffalo in the 1980s that made you look elsewhere for inspiration?
PM: Snow! Ha ha. But in all seriousness, that was one big reason why we left Buffalo. Tampa kind of became our second home after recording four albums there. We were a touring band at that point, and we felt we could live anywhere we wanted to, so moving to Tampa made all the sense in the world to us.
M: You’ve sold over 1 million albums. Does the city of Buffalo acknowledge your existence?
PM: For the most part, yes. We always get a little write-up in the paper or at least acknowledged when we play there. Buffalo is the birthplace of Cannibal Corpse, so it is nice that people know that and embrace it.
M: You can buy Torture from the couch. If you buy it at a record store, there’s a version that comes with a collectible toy murderer figurine. When did death metal stop being a threat?
PM: It is crazy to think that death metal is that openly received these days. I believe society is changing. Death metal is not new anymore, and kids are getting into this style of music at such an early age. People are realizing this music is great, and [it's] not going anywhere but forward and up.
M: To be fair, I don’t see it at Walmart.
PM: Someday, maybe . . . someday.
M: Cannibal Corpse has been at it for almost 25 years. What does a death-metal retirement plan look like?
PM: No time to think of any retirement plan. We are not done conquering the world!
TURN THE PAGE: Another year, another Metallica book. Except If You Like Metallica . . . (Backbeat) isn’t really about Metallica. It instead examines the commonalities 200-plus other bands share with Metallica, both direct (Megadeth, Exodus, Pansy Division?!) and indirect (The Devil’s Blood, The Hookers, Skrewdriver?!). The trivia-leaning reference paperback favors obvious examples for casual fans; true obscurities are relegated to lists. Chicago-based author Mike McPadden says his book is for anyone interested in hard-rock history.
“Metallica really encapsulates all of hard rock,” he explains, enjoying a hot-dog lunch during his day job as head writer for celebrity-porn site Mr. Skin. If You Like Metallica . . . covers Deep Purple and Tool alike, omitting most regrettably not Modest Mouse – “There are a lot of bands you couldn’t pay me to see,” the former Hustler scribe says, laughing at Metallica’s recent Orion festival lineup – but The Kinks. “Because the heavy-metal riff in a lot of ways was born [in 1964] with ‘You Really Got Me.’”
If you don’t like Metallica or “a lot of words for boobs and butts,” McPadden’s Heavy Metal Movies: The 666 Most Headbanging Films Of All-Time is due spring 2013 from Bazillion Points.
MOSH-WORTHY . . . LIVE: Pilgrim (Cobra Lounge, 8/10); Icarus Witch (Mojoes, 8/11); Russian Circles (Lincoln Hall, 8/23); Evanescence (Toyota Park, 8/26); Moonsorrow, Tyr (Mojoes, 9/1).
MOSH-WORTHY: Agalloch Faustian Echoes (self-released); Grave Endless Procession Of Souls (Century Media); Katatonia Dead End Kings (Peaceville); Mongrel’s Cross The Sins Of Aquarius (Hells Headbangers); Grand Magus Iron Will reissue (Metal Blade).
– Mike Meyer
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