It’s a name that invokes fear and disgust to the conservative populace and cheers and clenched fists to the metal masses. Cannibal Corpse has been corrupting our earholes for almost 25 years, and, mystifyingly, has not fallen victim to becoming a nostalgia act, unlike all too many of its peers.
Having recently released its twelfth studio album for Metal Blade Records, entitled TORTURE, the ferocious five has not only retained its signature brutality but has managed to remain relevant through increasingly better songwriting.
As the band prepares for its next tour of North America, we secured sometime with founding drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz in an effort to learn how Cannibal Corpse has managed to avoid the mortician’s slab!
When I first listened to TORTURE, I was floored by how youthful and energized the band sounds. Can you explain to me how Cannibal Corpse is retaining its freshness after all these years?
It’s a tough one to figure out, man. I think it has something to do that we’ve always loved what we do; the music is always aggressive, of course. But I know exactly what you mean. When we started writing these songs, they just came together so well. And these old school tempos, which we haven’t really used much lately, we also started to bring back. I don’t know if it was a conscious effort beyond our desire to write some really great songs. First and foremost, it’s about having a catchy, brutal song!
But the more I think about it, I think that Rob [Barrett, guitar] and Pat [O’Brien, guitar] really contributed moreso than they have in a while; especially Rob, who wrote three songs for this new record (every record he’s been on prior to this, he’d only written one per album). I think he really came into his own as a Cannibal song writer with these three songs.
And with Pat, who has contributed and collaborated a lot over the years, the four songs he wrote for TORTURE I think are arguably the best songs he’s ever written! The things these guys came up with really helped us create a more diverse record. I’m just glad it’s happening, and I think Cannibal fans will be really happy with it.
There is a sort of complacency curse that often plagues bands that have been around as long as Cannibal Corpse has, regardless of genre. How does the band actively go about avoiding putting out “just another Cannibal Corpse record”?
Well, like I said, we just love what we do. We’re lucky to be in the position we’re at, to make a living by making music. And when I think back to the early days, just being a fan of music in the 80s, we were let down by so many bands. We would love bands that would have a really great album or two, and then we’d get an album that we’d be like, “Whu-what happened???”They would become a completely different band.
I think we look at memories like that as a conscious driving force behind what we do. I never wanted to become one of those bands! There’s no reason to become that way, especially if you truly love what you do. That is key for us to keep pushing and striving to move forward, be the best musicians and songwriters we can, refining everything as we go, and here we are on top of our game!
At what point did you notice that the game had changed for you? What I mean is, Cannibal Corpse was on the vanguard of the whole gore/death metal genre, but there came a point where the infatuation with gore became almost comical and less menacing. And somewhere along the line, you recognized that and seemed to mature musically.
I know exactly what you’re talking about. I think really, ever since THE BLEEDING, we’ve began to evolve into what is now the “modern Cannibal sound.” Even though all our CDs are Cannibal CDs and you can tell them all apart, I don’t think it was until THE BLEEDING that we began to refine our songwriting and our musicianship. And we decided to keep moving up from that point on.
There have been bands that have come and gone, and trends and fads, and certain styles that have come and gone, and we actually really try to stay true to where we started – as a brutal death metal band. We’ve been lucky that the older we got, the more attention we paid to what we were doing, and even more luckily, we are still writing records that the fans continue to love.
Do you think that Cannibal Corpse has gradually become more acceptable to the American palate because of society’s growing infatuation with torture-horror and zombie movies?
Well, I think that is a little bit of it. But if you look at it, metal has been around for 30 or more years now. But back in the late 80s, what we were doing was new. We weren’t acceptable to the masses, because it was an underground style of music. But, like anything else, times change; here we are having been around for generations now! And we’re not new anymore.
Now, we have kids who are 9 or 10 years old, getting online and being able to hear bands like us now. And because of all the time that has passed, we’ve been around, people know our name; we’re not mainstream, but people know who we are. Even if they’re not into death metal, chances are, they’ve heard the name “Cannibal Corpse” somewhere. I think the evolving of generations and society’s acceptance of it more has played a huge role in our longevity.
Catch Cannibal Corpse live on The US Torture Tour 2012 on the following dates:
- April 5 at Freebird Live in Jacksonville, FL
- April 6 at The Soapbox in Wilmington, NC
- April 7 at Lincoln Theater in Raleigh, NC
- April 8 at V Club Live in Huntington, WV
- April 9 at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC
- April 10 at The Canal Club in Richmond, VA
- April 12 at Higher Ground in South Burlington, VT
- April 13 at The Club at Water St. in Rochester, NY
- April 14 at Bogart’s in Cincinnati, OH
- April 15 at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI
- April 16 at People’s Court in Des Moines, IA
- April 17 at Slowdown inOmaha, NE
- April 19 at The Scene-Ary in Wichita, KS
- April 20 at The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, CO
- April 21 at Mesa Theater in Grand Junction, CO
- April 22 at Top Deck in Farmington, NM
- April 23 at The Rock in Tucson, AZ
- April 24 at Tricky Falls in El Paso, TX
- April 25 at Jake’s in Lubbock, TX
- April 27 at The Blue Note in Columbia, MO
- April 28 at Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City, OK
- April 29 at Newby’s in Memphis, TN
- April 30 at Exit In in Nashville, TN
- May 1 at Zydeco in Birmingham, AL
- May 2 at Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, FL
Keep up with Cannibal Corpse on Facebook and at its official website.
And check out TORTURE available now at iTunes, Amazon, and Amazon Digital.