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Sunday Old School: Cannibal Corpse

Photo of Cannibal Corpse

Band Photo: Cannibal Corpse (?)

It’s common in heavy metal music for fans to exaggerate how important or how good a band they love is, but Cannibal Corpse genuinely deserves to be recognized as a ground breaking act in the field of death metal, being the biggest selling death metal band in the United States, as well as having a sound that has been copied countless times. The band was formed in Buffalo, New York from the remnants of popular local bands Tirant Sin, Leviathan and Beyond Death and through friends the members made, made their live debut in April 1989 opening for Dark Angel.

Not long after this impressive debut, Cannibal Corpse was snapped up by Metal Blade Records after the manager of the record store where vocalist Chris Barnes was working sent in the band's self-titled demo tape, becoming the label's first death metal band in the process. The first album, "Eaten Back To Life" was recorded at the Morrisound Recording studio, a place now famous for producing albums by the likes of Sepultura, Morbid Angel and Napalm Death amongst other big names in extreme metal, before being released in August 1990. The band didn’t do a conventional tour in support of the record, performing only a handful of shows when possible, including one which featured no more than thirteen people in attendance.

Cannibal Corpse returned to Florida shortly afterwards to record a sophomore album, "Butchered At Birth." This would mark the beginning of causing outrage and controversy on an international scale, as the record was banned in Germany and was only available to people over the age of eighteen in Ontario, Canada due to its graphic cover artwork. Despite this, Cannibal Corpse soon embarked on a first headlining tour, which took place in Europe, where the group was greeted very warmly by extreme metal fans. Upon returning, the guys set out on their first North American headlining tour, this time being joined by Atheist and Gorguts.

Having completed the tour, Cannibal Corpse recorded another album entitled, "Tomb Of The Mutilated," which once again featured a shocking album cover and also contained at least two of the group's best known songs in the shapes of, "Hammer Smashed Face" and "I Cum Blood." Shortly after the release of the album, the band parted ways with guitarist Bob Rusay, replacing him with Rob Barrett, known for his work with Malevolent Creation. After an appearance in the hit comedy, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the band once again got to work on a new album, which surfaced in 1994 under the name, "The Bleeding." The record was praised for its more disciplined approach to song writing and featuring plenty of catchy riffs, not to mention more charming song titles such as, "Fucked With A Knife" and "She Was Asking For It."

Changes soon came in abundance for the band, beginning with scenery. The group decided to relocate from it's native town of Buffalo and moved to Tampa, Florida, a state which also boasted some of the biggest names in death metal. Cannibal Corpse soon began work on a fifth album, tentatively entitled, "Created To Kill," which was going well until it was time to record the vocals. Barnes had a different idea from the rest of the band as to what the vocals should sound like, leading to a massive falling out between the singer and the other members.

While Barnes was preparing to go on tour with his side project, Six Feet Under, the rest of Cannibal Corpse began considering a new vocalist and on the suggestion of Rob Barrett, offered the position to Monstrosity vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, who immediately took the job and re-recorded all the vocal tracks on the album, which would finally be released in 1996 under the new title, "Vile." The record became something of a history maker, becoming the first death metal album to enter the Billboard 200 Chart, peaking at 151. Despite this commercial and critical success, Barrett was uncomfortable with the direction the band was going in and quit, being replaced by Nevermore and Monstrosity guitar player Pat O’Brien, who made his Cannibal Corpse recording debut on the next album, "Gallery Of Suicide."

The "Gallery Of Suicide" lineup proved to be quite stable, lasting a further three studio albums ("Bloodthirst," "Gore Obsessed" and "The Wretched Spawn") as well as the bands only live album, "Live Cannibalism," before founding guitarist Jack Owen decided to leave the band in favour of his hard rock project Adrift, in addition to his desire to take a break from playing death metal, though he would join Deicide six months later. Owen was initially replaced by guitarist Jeremy Turner, based on the recommendation of Erik Rutan but ultimately Owens position was filled by former guitarist Rob Barrett. Their first album with Barrett back in the fold, "Kill" would prove to be a big success, earning rave reviews from critics, including a 5/5 in Kerrang! magazine and hitting the Billboard Charts at 170, which would then be eclipsed by their next album, "Evisceration Plague," which peaked over a hundred places higher at number 66 when it was released in 2009.

The band is now preparing to release a twelfth studio album, "Torture" (reviewed here), which will hit the shelves this month and having just completed a European tour with Polish blackened death metal veterans Behemoth, will be on the road in the United Kingdom this week, headlining the first ever "Metal Hammer Presents: Destroyers Of The Faith" tour, where they will be joined by Triptykon, Enslaved and Job For A Cowboy.

Cannibal Corpse – "Hammer Smashed Face"

Cannibal Corpse – "Skull Full Of Maggots"

Cannibal Corpse – "Sentenced To Burn"

Cannibal Corpse – "Death Walking Terror"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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8 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Cannibal Corpse"

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R10's avatar


1. R10 writes:

Another good SOS Oz,and a timely one;seeing you're seeing them in a few days,huh? This band to me just keeps getting better and better. The few songs ive heard from the new record sound better than anything off from the last record,which i loved. Corpsegrinder's certainly one of the best frontmen in death metal imo. Stoked for the new album,and have tickets for thier April 12 show with Exhumed.

# Mar 4, 2012 @ 10:53 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
wilco's avatar


2. wilco writes:

damm oz again a good artical they are one of my fav bands

# Mar 4, 2012 @ 11:09 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
silvermountains's avatar


3. silvermountains writes:

i love reading these on sunday mornings before heading out for the day, great article as always oz, thanks.

# Mar 4, 2012 @ 12:39 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

4. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks alot guys, your kind words are always appreciated :) Yes R10, I am seeing them on wednesday. Providing I don't miss much then a show review will be written and posted.

# Mar 4, 2012 @ 12:56 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
R10's avatar


5. R10 writes:

Will look forward Oz to a review of that show! Killer fvckin line-up,fvckin envious of you. Saw Enslaved back in Sept. in Cambridge MA,in a small club,they destroyed with a 20 year anniversary set. Missed Triptykon at the same venue a few years ago unfortunately. And CC fvckin destroys live! Gonna be a badass show.

# Mar 4, 2012 @ 4:30 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar


6. BrianMN writes:

Now this brings back memories.
I think I was about 13 years old. Stayed up till 2am on a Friday night to hear some Metallica and MAYBE Slayer on the "underground metal show" on our local station.
A Skull Full of Maggots was played and I was floored.
It was the first new wave death metal song I had ever heard.
Eaten Back to Life.
Altars of Madness.
Slowly we Rot.
And Deicide's self titled.
The four albums that turned me into a freak for life.
Ahhh the memories.
I imagine myself when I'm walking down the beach in Florida when I'm in my 70's or 80's with my life long partner reminiscing about the first time we heard "Hammer Smashed Face".
Honey? Do you remember the first time we were in church and you accidentally played "FVcked with a Knife?"
Ahhhhhhh.......you remembered.
And they say love is dead.......... :)

# Mar 5, 2012 @ 9:19 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
heavy1's avatar


7. heavy1 writes:

Much respect for coming to the WV, we don't get alot of shows here especially as close as Huntington. Can't wait!

# Mar 5, 2012 @ 3:08 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar


8. hellrat writes:

Right on brother, another great SOS!! Even if I kinda hate you for gettin to see that show in a couple days...pretty killer line up! Man, I want to see Tryptikon bad

Well have fun you slimey limey, and please do give us poor and sorry bastards here the breakdown...lookin forward to it!

Cheers mate! \m/

# Mar 5, 2012 @ 6:13 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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