Cannibal Corpse's Death Metal Still Provoking Controversies
Courtesy of Metal Blade Records
The United States can't tell Cannibal Corpse what to do. (I mean, if you ever came across anything with that name, would you want to mess with it anyways?). Other countries can - in fact, Germany has tried to regulate the hell out of them over the years, and an array of countries have banned the sale of the band's albums--but in the good ol' U.S. of A., freedom of speech comes in pretty hand with heavy metal.
The New York-bred death metal band Cannibal Corpse is about as all-American as it gets: They cherish free speech, push the boundaries above and beyond, and for decades have lived their own American dream, rooted in one of the hardest fields to make a living -- heavy metal.
Since 1988, the band has released 12 studio albums, and with very little media exposure. Their success is from a cult following; a mixture of heavy metal and horror fans that really took off at their 1991 album Butchered at Birth, and 1992's Tomb of the Mutilated. Both albums went on to sell more than one million copies, and established them as the all-time top-selling death metal band in the United States.
The band's hybrid of thrash and death metal was chock full of lyrics and wrapped in album art influenced heavily from horror films and fiction. Yes; they're overly violent and extreme, and even those who are huge fans of gory horror movies may call their alleged "art" disgusting entertainment. Case in point: songs such as "Fucked With a Knife," "Necropedophile," and "Meat Hook Sodomy" are all some of the tamer titles. But in the end, they are just supposed to tell short fiction horror stories that are a part of a bigger album vision. However, in the documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, Fisher claimed that the band's artwork and music is no more violent than the artwork at the Vatican, which supposedly portrays real events.
Our interview with lead singer George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher may have been delayed because he was being a very metal dad, playing in the yard with his daughter, but once Fisher got on the phone he was all business, and very excited about the band's 2014 album.
Fisher talked about the new album's artwork, his multiple side projects including one with members from Killswitch Engage, and being a guest vocalist on the new Suicide Silence album, in late singer Mitch Lucker's memory.
The cover for Cannibal Corpse's new album, A Skeletal Domain
Catch Cannibal Corpse on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Tour on Friday, July 11, at Ak-Chin Pavilion.
Up on the Sun: So the band is currently working on the 13th album?
George Fisher: We're actually done; just waiting on the cover. All the recording and vocals are done. It'll be out in September.
Tell me a little bit about the concept behind that, or the angle you guys are taking.
You people will probably read this and be like, "oh great," but people have loved what we've been doing for years. It's nothing out of ... we used a different studio, you know? And we used Mark Lewis to record, which was new. But basically I think it's what everyone would expect from a great Cannibal Corpse album. It's heavy and brutal. It sounds good. I hate to sound like we don't try to do anything different or add new stuff. It's just straight-up death metal. But it's memorable and catchy, as much as Cannibal Corpse can be. We don't stray too far away, but we pushed ourselves here on this album. I was very happy with the vocals when I walked away.
Is there a title yet? Or an album artwork ideas?
Yes, but I don't know if we can put it out yet. ... I don't think I'm allowed to. [Long pause]. I mean, I guess I can just tell you what it is! It's called Skeletal Domain. As far as the artwork goes, we've always done what we've wanted to do, and artist Vincent Locke always does a great job. I don't think it's going to be a super gory cover like people might expect, but it's pretty dark and evil-looking. I'm sure people want another Tortured cover with people hanging and bodies in distress, but it's not there this time.
If someone had never heard of Cannibal Corpse, what album would you give them that you think represents the band, and why?
Um. Short answer, the new album I'd definitely say. Kill (2006), Bloodthirst (1999) ... but all the albums, you know what I mean, every album is different in its own right. But I could also say any of the older albums. ... We've definitely matured from our past albums, and hardcore fans can probably distinguish a major difference in some areas. But the older albums really give an idea of what we're about. Go listen to our first album, then listen to our new one. There. We may not stray too far from the Cannibal Corpse formula.
I feel like I haven't heard about public controversy about Cannibal Corpse since the early 2000s. While I'm sure it's always there, has the band experienced anything in the past few years that has restricted your presence in different places?
We've had a couple of incidents in areas where we still can't play certain songs in certain parts of Germany; that's always been a difficult place it seems. That country is always up our ass. The government, just like every other country, think they know what they're doing but they don't you know? But we're just entertainment, you know? They don't find it entertaining, so therefore, others shouldn't. We'll play certain shows where we can't play certain songs, and many other areas where we can play whatever we want. Sometimes kids come up to us asking why we didn't play specific songs and we just have to be like, 'We're not allowed!' We mostly get bummed for the fans. We've played the songs a ton of times before. It's unfortunate for them when they come all the way to our shows, but sometimes it's out of our hands. Nowadays, for the most part, it's OK, though. Once in a awhile our reputation precedes us. Also, in the U.S. they can't tell us what we can and can't play. That mostly just happens in other countries. There would be a load of problems if the U.S. restricted us!
Tell me a bit more about your project VooDoo Gods.
Not too long ago I flew over to Salzburg. They had already recorded the rest of the Voodoo Gods album, but we had talked about it for quite awhile. The real cool part of it was that I recorded my vocals with Andy La Rocque [King Diamond guitarist]. That was amazing. Just awesome. I had never met him before. I love King Diamond. I saw King Diamond so long ago, and I've seen them a bunch. Cannibal has a played a bunch of festivals with King Diamond but we had never met. I wish I could give more details as far as it's coming out, but they are still building towards that. They don't want that and the Cannibal record to come out too close.
Also, actually, I'm recording a record with Shannon Lucas Black Dahlia Murder and Adam D. from Killswitch Engage. We're in the midst of doing a record and almost done. That's going to be out around, I'm thinking, early next year.
So what is that collaboration called?
We don't have a name for it yet actually. It's really weird that this interview is about Mayhem because I met Adam D on Mayhem in 2009. He said, 'Hey man, if I were to write a bunch of songs would you sing on it?' And then we talked to Shannon who was playing with Black Dahlia on the tour. Adam said he'd write a bunch of the songs when he got home. And five years have gone by, but we finally have some stuff ready. I think around eight total songs....We have to come up with a name for it first. I wish I had a name for you to put out there, but I guess we just wanted to get everything recorded first. I think people are going to really like it. It's fast along the lines of Cannibal Corpse, but then there's some stuff that ...it's all heavy. But there is melodic stuff from Adam, along with clean heavy stuff. It's going to be a cool mix. When he first sent me the music I thought it was fucking amazing. But now with everything recorded ... it's awesome.
You also contributed guest vocals to the track "Control" on the new Suicide Silence album, You Can't Stop Me, which is due out July 15. How did you feel about that since it was the first album with the new vocalist since Mitch Lucker passed away?
I wanted to contribute more but I wasn't able to because of other circumstances. You know, we toured with Suicide Silence a few years back in South America. The guys were all great and Mitch was so awesome. I'll never forget it: We were all touring and in this bar having some drinks or whatever, and Mitch was like, 'Hey Kenny [Dan, Suicide Silence bassist], we should get George to do some vocals on the next album!' I was so excited and told them I would definitely do it. When they kept that in mind after Mitch passed away, I still really wanted to do it because Mitch had originally brought that up. In memory of Mitch.
If you could be a fly on the wall for any recording in history, which would it be? I know you're a big fan of live albums, though.
Don't Break the Oath by Mercyful Fate. That is my favorite album. If I could've been there while they recorded it would be the most awesome thing ever. To me, that album ... it's just something else.
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