When you hear about Cannibal Corpse for the first time, you might leap to certain conclusions. For instance, you’d probably guess that they don’t sing too many songs about sunshine and lollipops. That would be a fair assumption.
“I think ‘Skewered from Ear to Eye’ is kind of a cool title because it’s very visual,” says bassist Alex Webster, when asked his favorite track name from the group’s latest album, "Evisceration Plague." “You can actually picture somebody putting a skewer into someone’s head at an angle, so that it starts in the ear and goes diagonally out the eye. Those kinds of visual song titles have always been my favorites.”
In the 21 years Cannibal Corpse has been around, they’ve written quite a few such songs: “Force-Fed Broken Glass,” “Every Bone Broken,” and “Five Nails Through the Neck.” These tracks and others have helped the group—rounded out by vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, and guitarists Rob Barrett and Pat O’Brien—earn their reputation as the hallmark death metal band.
Listeners might also assume that death metal (which Webster defines as a “faster, darker form of heavy metal where you have a guttural type of vocals and lyrics that are about a dark subject”) is just a couple of guys haphazardly slamming on their instruments in order to make the most indecipherable noise possible. That, however, would be a bit unfair.
“For anybody out there who is open-minded and doesn’t really know about our band or about any of the death metal scene, I’d recommend giving our music a close listen,” says Webster. “There might be a lot more going on than they would assume just by looking at our imagery. We put a lot of time into these songs; there’s a lot of difficult musicianship. Even if someone isn’t into the violent imagery, I think they could still probably find something to appreciate.”
Loud and aggressive music about death and violence tends to appeal only to a certain niche, and people outside of that niche often wonder what the attraction is.
“I’m not a particularly aggressive person, but I really enjoy listening to aggressive music. I guess, for me, violent or aggressive music can be a good outlet for that side of my personality—any side of me that might have some aggression to it, I can get it out in a positive way by playing music,” explains Webster.
What holds true for performers often holds true for audiences, and Cannibal Corpse’s fans seem to share Webster’s sentiments.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people that they feel real happy after they listen to our music because they’ve been able to get out a lot of aggression,” he says. “Everyone has aspects of their lives that are frustrating, and we aren’t always able to deal with them exactly how we’d like to. “
Cannibal Corpse will visit Japan next month for the second time, following an appearance here way back in 1996. “We were almost thinking we would never have a chance to come back,” Webster says. “Now we’re finally getting back there, and it’s like a dream come true.”
Cannibal Corpse had a blast the last time they came to Japan—and the trip had an additional, and rather surprising, health benefit for Webster. Nowadays, the bassist leads a pretty sober lifestyle, but 13 years ago was a different story.
“After four days of partying, I must have worn my resistance down and I ended up getting the flu,” he recalls. “I actually felt really sick for the two shows we played. I was sick enough that I was able to quit smoking. I haven’t smoked cigarettes since then.”
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This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).© Japan Today