Interview: Cannibal Corpse Still Liven Up Death Metal


To many, Cannibal Corpse is death metal. For over a quarter century, the band has been penning and playing some of the most graphic, cannibal-corpse-1-smallextreme, horrifying, neck-spraining heavy music to ever step foot on the globe. Sensitive minds and stomachs need not apply for listening sessions.

As we speak, the band – Alex Webster (bass), Paul Mazurkiewicz (drums), Pat O’Brien (guitar), George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (vocals), and Rob Barrett (guitar) – is blasting through blistering 35-minute sets as part of the Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival as the only true death metal act on the bill. This is all fine and good with Barrett, who tells 40 minutes after a set in Michigan, that he has no problem getting off the stage to enjoy the summer sun.

Like the weather, Cannibal Corpse is warming up for the release of their thirteenth studio album, the intrinsically intense A Skeletal Domain. Due out September 16 through Metal Blade Records, the offering features entries like “Sadistic Embodiment,” “Headlong into Carnage,” “Icepick Lobotomy,” and “Asphyxiate to Resuscitate.” Long-time fans are set to be impressed.

On the album, O’Brien wrote five tracks, Webster four, and Barrett two and a half, yet the consistency of the material wouldn’t lead a listener to believe that there were too many cannibals in the kitchen.

“That can get challenging after so many years of writing within the same style,” responds Barrett when asked if it’s tough to continually find fresh ground with a new album. “But, I think there are different ideas with timing. There are still plenty of areas to explore. It may all sound the same to someone who really doesn’t like death metal, but if you’re really into the music, you can tell there’s different stuff going on. We try to make each song unique in its own way.”

He continues: “We’re just looking for different stories to touch on. There are different ideas when it comes to lyrics, you know, different ways of people dying and people killing. Most of the lyrics from the last several albums have more or less been based on psychopathic stuff like murderers, and killers instead of the zombie [influence] on the earlier material.”

Considering Cannibal Corpse’s well-earned reputation as masters of horrifying imagery and aggressive sonic tendencies, Barrett agrees when we suggest that his band likely doesn’t face any limits creatively.

Where it all starts, says Barrett, is with the music. He understands that the wordplay is a big focus, but notes that the band first zones in on writing “killer music,” then brings in the lyrics to round out the songs. In terms of inspiration for the latter, Barrett relies a lot on what he sees on TV, as well as what he reads. From there, he takes the real-life dramas and contorts them into the twisted fiction that Cannibal Corpse share through song.

“It’s the darker side of life shit, you know?” Responds Barrett when asked why people are so attracted to the harshness of his band’s songs. “If the music’s dark and eerie sounding, you’re going to want the lyrics to go with that. It would take away from the brutality and the heaviness of the material if we were just talking about real life stuff like, ‘oh, I’m feeling bad and I’m going to get over it eventually,” laughs. “A lot of bands will base their lyrics on reality, which is cool because people have a connection with that, but people who are into comic books or horror movies are into [our] fantasy stories.

Adds Barrett: “I’ve heard some fans think that we’re actually into doing the stuff that we’re talking about, but it’s all fictional stuff…for the Cannibal-Corpse-2most part.”

As veterans of the death metal community, Cannibal Corpse have a certain cache that not many others in the genre are able to have at this juncture. That said, Barrett says that the band has no interest in wanting “to hold the championship belt,” of the genre, but instead appreciates younger bands that are pushing the envelope. Music evolves.

Even with that in mind, there isn’t a retirement plan in place for Cannibal Corpse, who at 26 years have head-banged for more miles than the best frequent flier out there. However, as the guys get older, there is that realization that all must come to an end at some point…if for no other than to not look odd in their later years.

“We aren’t going to be able to be banging our heads and playing this hard shit on stage forever,” confirms Barrett. “I’d say we’re closer to the end than we are the beginning. But, we still have a lot of creativity left.

“It bums me out to think that this may all be over sooner than later, but hey, that’s life. Everybody gets old. I just can’t imagine us being up there at 60-years-old trying to bang our heads. That would probably just look ridiculous,” he says with a laugh. “Maybe we’ll have some clones go up there and do some live shows for us.”

-Adam Grant

Click here to pre-order A Skeletel Domain through iTunes.


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