Cannibal Corpse

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Cannibal Corpse
Hellfest2019CannibalCorpse 03.jpg
Cannibal Corpse at Hellfest 2019
Background information
OriginBuffalo, New York, U.S.
GenresDeath metal
Years active1988–present
LabelsMetal Blade
Past members

Cannibal Corpse is an American death metal band formed in Buffalo, New York in 1988, now based out of Tampa, Florida. The band has released fifteen studio albums, two box sets, four video albums, and two live albums. The band has had little radio or television exposure throughout its existence, although a cult following began to build with the releases of their early albums, including Butchered at Birth (1991) and Tomb of the Mutilated (1992). As of 2015, they achieved worldwide sales of two million units for combined sales of all their albums.[1][2] In April 2021, Cannibal Corpse received their best "first week" sales of all-time and first Top 10 on the Billboard Top Album Sales Chart as Violence Unimagined entered at No. 6 with 14,000 copies sold.[3]

Bassist Alex Webster came up with the name Cannibal Corpse. They have had several lineup changes since their inception, with Webster and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz as the only constant members. The members of Cannibal Corpse were originally inspired by thrash metal bands like Metallica, Slayer, Dark Angel, S.O.D., Sadus, Sodom, Kreator, D.R.I. and Sacrifice, and death metal bands such as Possessed, Autopsy, Morbid Angel and Death.[4][5][6] The band's album art (most often by Vincent Locke) and lyrics, drawing heavily on horror fiction and horror films, are highly controversial. At different times, several countries, such as Germany and Russia, have banned Cannibal Corpse from performing within their borders, or have banned the sale and display of original Cannibal Corpse album covers.[7][8]


Members from earlier Buffalo-area death metal bands Beyond Death (Alex Webster, Jack Owen), Tirant Sin (Paul Mazurkiewicz, Chris Barnes, Bob Rusay), and Leviathan (Barnes) established the band in December 1988. The band played its first show at Buffalo's River Rock Cafe in March 1989, shortly after recording a five-song self-titled demo tape. Within a year of the first gig, the band was signed to Metal Blade Records, apparently after the label had heard the demo tape that the manager of the record store at which Barnes was working sent in.[9] Their full-length death metal debut album, Eaten Back to Life, was released in August 1990. Inspired by and seeking the new commercial and recording opportunities of the emerging Florida death metal scene, the band relocated to Tampa.[10]

The band has had several lineup changes. In February 1993, founding member and guitarist Bob Rusay was dismissed from the group (after which he became a golf instructor) and was ultimately replaced by Malevolent Creation guitarist Rob Barrett.[11] In 1995, during recording sessions for a new album, singer Chris Barnes was dismissed because of personal differences with the rest of the band[12] and was replaced by Monstrosity singer George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. Barnes went on to perform with the band Six Feet Under and, later, Torture Killer.

Performance in Washington D.C. in 2007

In February 1997, Barrett, who had replaced Rusay on guitar, left Cannibal Corpse to re-join his previous bands Malevolent Creation and Solstice. Pat O'Brien, who first appeared on Cannibal Corpse's 1998 release Gallery of Suicide, replaced Barrett. Founding member and guitarist Jack Owen left Cannibal Corpse in 2004 to spend more time on his second band, Adrift. He joined Deicide in late 2004. Jeremy Turner of Origin briefly replaced him as guitarist on 2004's Tour of The Wretched Spawn. Barrett re-joined the band for a concert at the Northwest Deathfest in Washington in 2005. [13]

Writing for the follow-up to Kill (2006) began in November 2007, as indicated in an interview with bassist Alex Webster.[14] Evisceration Plague, Cannibal Corpse's eleventh studio album was released February 3, 2009,[15] to a highly positive response from fans. They also released a live DVD in 2011 entitled Global Evisceration. Cannibal Corpse released its twelfth studio album, Torture, in March 2012.[16] Two early bands of the members reunited for one respective benefit concert each for Tony Lorenzo of the group Sons Of Azrael in January 2012. [17]

In February 2014, Cannibal Corpse announced that they had begun recording their thirteenth album, A Skeletal Domain, which was released on September 16. "Sadistic Embodiment" was released as a single in July. All the song titles of the forthcoming album were announced on the same day.[18] The same month, Metal Blade announced the publication of the band's authorized biography Bible Of Butchery, written by the British author Joel McIver.[19]

In an August 2016 interview, drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz stated that Cannibal Corpse would likely begin recording a new album in 2017.[20] In September 2017, the band announced their fourteenth studio album Red Before Black, which was released on November 3.[21]

On December 10, 2018, guitarist Pat O'Brien was arrested for assault and battery; his bail was set at $50,000.[22] On the eve of the news of his arrest, Cannibal Corpse was announced as one of the supporting acts for Slayer's final North American tour, which would take place in the spring of 2019 and also be supported by Lamb of God and Amon Amarth.[23] On January 18, 2019, Cannibal Corpse announced that Hate Eternal frontman and former Morbid Angel guitarist Erik Rutan would fill-in for O'Brien on their future tours.[24]

Cannibal Corpse entered the studio in June 2020 to begin recording their fifteenth studio album.[25] On February 1, 2021, the band announced that the album, Violence Unimagined, would be released on April 16.[26] They released a music video for the song "Inhumane Harvest" from the album in February. The video takes its cues from horror movies like Saw.[27] The band also announced that live guitarist Erik Rutan has officially joined the band full-time,[28] in spite of that it is currently uncertain as to whether or not guitarist O'Brien will return to the group following his 2018 legal troubles.

As of January 2023, Cannibal Corpse has begun working on their sixteenth studio album, which was listed by Revolver magazine as one of the "55 Most Anticipated Albums" of the year.[29]

Controversy and publicity

United States

Cannibal Corpse have been subject to obscenity controversy since virtually the start of the group's career.

In May 1995, then-US Senator Bob Dole accused Cannibal Corpse—along with hip hop acts including the Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew—of undermining the national character of the United States.[30] A year later, the band came under fire again, this time as part of a campaign by William Bennett, Senator Joe Lieberman, then-Senator Sam Nunn, and National Congress of Black Women chair C. Delores Tucker to get major record labels—including Time Warner, Sony, Thorn-EMI, PolyGram and Bertelsmann—to "dump 20 recording groups [...] responsible for the most offensive lyrics".[31]

Cannibal Corpse also had a cameo appearance in the 1994 Jim Carrey film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, performing an abridged version of their song "Hammer Smashed Face".


As of October 23, 1996, the sale of any Cannibal Corpse audio recording then available was banned in Australia and all copies of such had been removed from music shops.[32] At the time, the Australian Recording Industry Association and the Australian Music Retailers Association were implementing a system for identifying potentially offensive records, known as the "labelling code of practice".[33][34]

All ten of Cannibal Corpse's albums, the live album Live Cannibalism, the boxed set 15 Year Killing Spree, the EP Worm Infested, and the single "Hammer Smashed Face" were re-released in Australia between 2006 and 2007, finally classified by ARIA and allowed for sale in Australia. However, they are all "restricted" and only sold to those over 18 years of age. Some are sold in "censored" and "uncensored" editions, which denotes the change of cover art.[35] Despite this, when displayed in some stores, even the "uncensored" editions are censored manually.

After discussion of banning them from touring, Australian comedy act The Chaser did a lounge music version of their song "Rancid Amputation" on their show The Chaser's War on Everything, claiming that the music, and not the lyrics, was the problem, by performing a lounge music version.[36]


All Cannibal Corpse albums up to and including Tomb of the Mutilated were banned upon release from being sold or displayed in Germany due to their graphic cover art and disturbing lyrics; the band was also forbidden to play any songs from those albums while touring in Germany.[37] This prohibition was not lifted until June 2006.[37] In a 2004 interview, George Fisher attempted to recall what originally provoked the ban:

"A woman saw someone wearing one of our shirts, I think she is a schoolteacher, and she just caused this big stink about it. So [now] we can't play anything from the first three records. And it really sucks because kids come up and they want us to play all the old songs — and we would — but they know the deal. We can't play 'Born in a Casket' but can play 'Dismembered and Molested'."[38]


Six of the eight planned shows from the band's 2014 Russian tour were canceled after protests from local Orthodox activists. A month before the tour, religious activist Dimitry Tsorionov said Cannibal Corpse's music was punishable under Russian law because it "incites religious division." He commented unfavorably on the lyrics, saying they promoted "death, violence, as well as various kinds of sexual perversion."[39] The gig in Nizhny Novgorod was stopped halfway through the set, after police conducted a search for drugs at the venue.[40] The concert in Saint Petersburg was canceled at the last minute because of unspecified "technical reasons", OMON arrived shortly after and arrested eighteen concertgoers.[41] Cannibal Corpse members stated that Russian authorities threatened to detain the members if they performed because they did not have the correct work visas.[40]

Responses to critics

Cannibal Corpse's lyrics and album/T-shirt artwork frequently feature transgressive and macabre imagery, including depictions of extreme violence and gore; the band has always defended this as artistic expression that is clearly fictional. In an interview for the documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, George Fisher said that death metal is best understood "as art", and claims that far more violent art can be found at the Vatican, pointing out that such depictions are arguably more transgressive because they actually happened.[42] Some examples of Cannibal Corpse's controversial song titles include "I Cum Blood", "Meat Hook Sodomy", "Entrails Ripped from a Virgin's Cunt", "Necropedophile", "Stripped, Raped, and Strangled", "Addicted to Vaginal Skin", "Stabbed in the Throat", "Dismembered and Molested" and "Fucked with a Knife".[43]

On the same topic, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher once said in an interview:

"We don't sing about politics. We don't sing about religion...All our songs are short stories that, if anyone would so choose they could convert it into a horror movie. Really, that's all it is. We like gruesome, scary movies, and we want the lyrics to be like that. Yeah, it's about killing people, but it's not promoting it at all. Basically these are fictional stories, and that's it. And anyone who gets upset about it is ridiculous."[44]

In response to accusations that his band's lyrics desensitize people to violence, Alex Webster argued death metal fans enjoy the music only because they know the violence depicted in its lyrics is not real:

"I think people probably aren't that desensitized to it, you know including myself, like you know, we sing about all this stuff and you watch a movie where you know it's not real and it's no big deal, but if you really saw someone get their brains bashed in right in front of you, I think it would have a pretty dramatic impact on any human being you know what I mean? Or some terrible, gross act of violence or whatever done right in front of you, I mean you'd react to it, no matter how many movies you've watched or how much gore metal you've listened to or whatever, I'm sure it's a completely different thing when it's right in front of you. Even though we've got crazy entertainment now, our social realities are actually a bit more civilized than they were back then, I mean we're not hanging people or whipping them in the street and I think that's positive improvement for any society in my opinion."[45]

He also believes the violent lyrics can have positive value: "It's good to have anger music as a release."[46] George Fisher explained the content of their songs: "There's nothing ever serious. We're not thinking of anybody in particular that we're trying to kill, or harm or anything."[47]

Band members


Recording timeline

Role Album
Eaten Back to Life
Butchered at Birth
Tomb of the Mutilated
The Bleeding
Gallery of Suicide
Gore Obsessed
The Wretched Spawn
Evisceration Plague
A Skeletal Domain
Red Before Black
Violence Unimagined
Vocals Chris Barnes George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher
Lead guitar Bob Rusay Rob Barrett Pat O'Brien Erik Rutan
Rhythm guitar Jack Owen Rob Barrett
Bass Alex Webster
Drums Paul Mazurkiewicz


Studio albums

See also


  1. ^ "Cannibal Corpse Awarded With Plaque Signifying Sales of More Than Two Million". Ultimate Guitar Archive. February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  2. ^ "It's Official: CANNIBAL CORPSE Are The Top-Selling Death Metal Band Of The SoundScan Era". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. November 17, 2003. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  3. ^ "Cannibal Corpse enter Top 10 at no. 6". Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  4. ^ "Dawn with Alex Webster". The Metal Web!. 2006. Archived from the original on August 27, 2008. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  5. ^ "Cannibal Corpse Family Tree — The Metal". Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  6. ^ "Cannibal Corpse Interview - ETERNITY Magazin". (in German). March 2000. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  7. ^ Joe DiVita (October 27, 2020). "13 Hard Rock + Metal Bands Who Were Banned From Countries". Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  8. ^ "Russian court bans music and artwork of Cannibal Corpse". the Guardian. December 2, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  9. ^ "Talk Today: Cannibal Corpse: Jack Owen". USA Today. Gannett Company. March 22, 2001. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  10. ^ Stevenson, Arielle (October 22, 2009). "The way the music died: The earliest days of Tampa Death Metal". Tampa Bay Times. Times Publishing Company. Archived from the original on October 23, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  11. ^ Pratt, Greg (2012). "Cannibal Corpse Staring through the Eyes of the Banned". Archived from the original on July 19, 2013.
  12. ^ "Six Feet Under Interview with Chris Barnes". March 16, 2008. Archived from the original on March 16, 2008.
  13. ^ "Cannibal Corpse Biography". metallian. August 1, 2022. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  14. ^ "Cannibal Corpse to begin writing new album in November". March 8, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2007.
  15. ^ Rosenbloom, Etan (January 2009). "Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague (New Album)". Prefix. Prefix Media, LLC. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  16. ^ "Cannibal Corpse begins recording new album". September 6, 2011. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
  17. ^ "Cannibal Corpse History". metallian. August 1, 2022. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  18. ^ "Cannibal Corpse to begin recording new album this weekend". February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
  19. ^ "Cannibal Corpse: Authorized Biography 'Bible Of Butchery' Due In September". July 3, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  20. ^ "Cannibal Corpse Has No Problems Coming Up With New Material". August 13, 2016. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  21. ^ "CANNIBAL CORPSE To Release 'Red Before Black' Album In November; Track Listing, Artwork Unveiled". Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  22. ^ "CANNIBAL CORPSE Guitarist Appears In Court Wearing Anti-Suicide Vest, Bail Set At $50,000 Pending Drug Test". December 11, 2018. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  23. ^ "SLAYER Announces North American Tour With LAMB OF GOD, AMON AMARTH, CANNIBAL CORPSE; BLABBERMOUTH.NET Presale". December 10, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  24. ^ "CANNIBAL CORPSE Recruits Guitarist ERIK RUTAN For Upcoming Tours". Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  25. ^ Blabbermouth (June 2, 2020). "CANNIBAL CORPSE Is In Studio Recording New Album". Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  26. ^ "Cannibal Corpse To Release New Album "Violence Unimagined" In April". ThePRP. February 1, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  27. ^ "Cannibal Corpse Releases NSFW Gorefest Video for New Song "Inhumane Harvest"". mxdwn Music. February 24, 2021. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  28. ^ "CANNIBAL CORPSE Announces 'Violence Unimagined' Album, Officially Recruits Guitarist ERIK RUTAN". February 2, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  29. ^ "55 Most Anticipated Albums of 2023". Revolver. January 1, 2023. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  30. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (June 1, 1995). "Films and Recordings Threaten Nation's Character, Dole Says". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2009. Although the article seems to imply that Cannibal Corpse is a "rap group" rather than a metal band, it is one of the few reliable sources on the Internet for Dole's exact words.
  31. ^ Philips, Chuck; Salem-Fitzgerald, D. J. (May 31, 1996). "Rap foes put 20 artists on a hit list". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  32. ^ Sinnet, Natasha (October 23, 1996). "Censorship and heavy metal". Green Left Weekly. Archived from the original on November 10, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  33. ^ "How it works" (PDF). What music is your child listening to?. Australian Recording Industry Association. March 2003. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  34. ^ "Labelling Guidelines" (PDF). Labelling code of practice for recorded music containing potentially offensive lyrics and/or themes. Australian Music Retailers Association. March 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 16, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  35. ^ "Level 3 Product: 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007" (PDF). Labelled Titles. Australian Recording Industry Association. April 1, 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  36. ^ "Chaser's War On Everything - Cannibal Corpse Parody". YouTube.
  37. ^ a b Watson, Tyler. "Reviews of Cannibal Corpse's 'Tomb of the Mutilated' (1992)". Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  38. ^ Falina, Melanie (February 2004). "Cannibal Corpse Just Wants to Sing About Ripping Apart Human Flesh in Peace". Chicago Innerview. Innerview Media, Inc. Archived from the original on March 11, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  39. ^ Kozlov, Vladimir (October 14, 2014). "Cannibal Corpse's Russia Tour Under Pressure from Orthodox Protestors". Billboard. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  40. ^ a b Hartmann, Graham (October 16, 2014). "Cannibal Corpse Concert Stopped Mid-Show by Russian Police". Loudwire. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  41. ^ Munro, Scott (October 17, 2014). "Cannibal Corpse fans arrested in Russia". Metal Hammer. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  42. ^ Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (2005, Sam Dunn, director)
  43. ^ a b "Cannibal Corpse | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  44. ^ Fisher, Mark (January 2004). "Interview: George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher". Mark's Record Reviews. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  45. ^ Wilschick, Aaron (February 15, 2007). "Cannibal Corpse: Interview with bassist Alex Webster". PureGrain Inc. Archived from the original on December 29, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  46. ^ "Cannibal Corpse — Alex Webster and George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher". Way Too Loud!. Xtremely Media. October 23, 2007. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  47. ^ Van Pelt, Doug (April 2004). "What Cannibal Corpse Says". HM: The Hard Music Magazine. HM Magazine. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012.
  48. ^ "Rob Barrett | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  49. ^ "We Talked to Cannibal Corpse About What It's Like To Be One of The Oldest Death Metal Bands Around". SF Weekly. March 3, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2020.

External links