Cannibal Corpse is an American Death Metal
band formed in 1988. They are one of the few death metal bands known in the mainstream; this is due to their extreme, Gorn-filled
lyrics, which have caused immense controversy in several countries. They have had little TV or radio exposure, but remain one of the most popular (if not the
most popular) death metal bands. They're certainly among the top-selling, and are considered one of the most influential death metal bands of all time, pushing forward the subgenre of "brutal death metal".
Their current lineup consists of George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher (vocals)note
, Alex Webster (bass), Paul Mazurkiewicz (drums), and guitarists Pat O'Brien and Rob Barrett. They have had quite a few past members, the most notable of these being Chris Barnes, their first vocalist, who is now the frontman of another death metal band, Six Feet Under
(not to be confused with the show
, of course).
Their albums are renowned for having extremely gory album art. You can see the albums and their respective art below, but bear in mind that the lion's share of them are extremely NSFW
- Eaten Back to Life, 1990
- Butchered at Birth◊, 1991
- Tomb of the Mutilated◊, 1992
- The Bleeding◊, 1994 (not gory enough for you? Here◊ is the rereleased album cover!)
- Vile◊, 1996
- Gallery of Suicide◊, 1998
- Bloodthirst◊, 1999
- Gore Obsessed◊, 2002
- The Wretched Spawn◊, 2004
- Kill◊, 2006 (this one is SFW)
- Evisceration Plague◊, 2009
- Torture◊, 2012
- A Skeletal Domain◊, 2014 (this one is also relatively SFW)
The band provides examples of the following tropes:
- Alliterative Title: The band's name itself, as well as the songs, "The Spine Splitter", "Bent Backwards and Broken", "Barbaric Bludgeonings", "Beheading and Burning" and "Caged...Contorted".
- And I Must Scream: "Staring through the Eyes of the Dead" and "Dead Human Collection"
- Atop a Mountain of Corpses: "Rotted Body Landslide" features someone being crushed to death in a landslide of bodies while trying to climb a mountain of corpses.
- Audience Participation Song: "A Skull Full of Maggots"
- The Band Minus the Face: To some extent. Although most fans view current vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher as a formidable replacement to original frontman Chris Barnes, some still insist that the band lost defining characteristics after Barnes' departure.
- Bloodier and Gorier / Darker and Edgier: They managed to do this to death metal, of all genres.
- Body Horror: "Sickening Metamorphosis."
- Book Ends: "Rotting Head" begins and ends with the same line:
A quivering pile of useless flesh, locked in a padded cell
- The Cameo:
- Glen Benton from Deicide does back-up vocals on "Mangled, "A Skull Full of Maggots" and "Vomit the Soul".
- Erik Rutan from Hate Eternal (also the producer of the band's albums from Kill to Torture) did a guitar solo on "Unnatural".
- Careful With That Axe: Several of their songs have sudden and particularly bloodcurdling screams, including "Blood Drenched Execution" and "Devoured by Vermin". "Blunt Force Castration" opens very suddenly and brutally with a massive growl, and could be considered a partial example of this.
- Contemptible Cover: All of them save for Kill and maybe A Skeletal Domain which is ominous and creepy rather than gory.
- Cover Version: They've covered "The Exorcist" and "Confessions" by Possessed, "Zero the Hero" by Black Sabbath, "Sacrifice" by Sacrifice, "Demon's Night" by Accept, "No Remorse" by Metallica, "Bethany Home (A Place to Die)" by The Accused, "Endless Pain" by Kreator, and "Behind Bars" by Razor.
- Creative Differences: Depending on who you ask, Barnes either left because of this or because his excessive marijuana usage blew out his voice and made him unable to consistently pull off his gutturals.
- Death from Above: "Scalding Hail"
- Death Metal: The uber-example, as well as the Trope Codifier.
- Destroy the Evidence: "Evidence in the Furnace".
- Disposing of a Body: "Disposal of the Body"
- Double Standard: In the heavy metal documentary, "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey", Corpsegrinder mentions how artwork more violent than their lyrics and cover art can be found at the Vatican.
- Drop the Hammer: Hammer Smashed Face, natch.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first album had a more thrash metal-esque tone to it, and Chris Barnes' vocals were less guttural. This is because a fair bit of that album was comprised of leftovers from Leviathan and Tirant Sin that Barnes, Rusay, and Mazurkiewicz had sitting around and wanted to use.
- Eaten Alive: This is what happens to the protagonist in "Devoured by Vermin". Even though his heart, lungs, and other vital organs are being ripped out, he can still feel pain.
- Epic Fail: According to Chris Barnes, the first song that the band attempted to cover (under the band's original incarnation of Tirant Sin) was something from Pink Floyd. You can guess how well that turned out.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "When Death Replaces Life" and "Buried in the Backyard".
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Immediately before they play the song "I Cum Blood" in concerts, Corpsegrinder says "this song is about shooting blood out of your cock."
- Facial Horror: The protagonist in "Disfigured" using a razor on his nose and ears, eventually lighting himself on fire so he can char his face.
- Fading into the Next Song: "Disfigured" -> "Bloodlands"
- "Hung and Bled" -> "Sanded Faceless"
- Fed to Pigs: The leader of the tribe in "Beheading and Burning" suffers this fate.
- Gorn: In an aversion, Cannibal Corpse are surprisingly lacking in gory lyrics. Their lyrics have never been about gore, and focus on topical subjects such as government corruption and the environment.
- On the more serious side of things, they have had a couple of songs that focus less on gore and more on the supernatural/paranormal side of things such as "When Death Replaces Life" and "A Skeletal Domain".
- Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death
- Grave Robbing: "Coffinfeeder" is about zombies that dig up graves to eat the corpses inside them.
- Groin Attack: "Blunt Force Castration," "Orgasm Through Torture" and "Addicted to Vaginal Skin" are about this.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: The cover of "The Bleeding" album is that of a zombie's bloody chest.
- The censored cover of Vile manages to be slightly more unnerving than the regular cover by zooming in on the corpse's face.
- Hair Today Gone Tomorrow: Jack Owen.
- Harsh Vocals: Barnes had far deeper and huskier growls while Fisher had faster ones, while making more use of the occasional Metal Scream.
- Hate Plague: The theme of their 2009 album, Evisceration Plague.
- I Am the Band: Alex Webster and Paul Mazurkiewicz are not only the only original members left, but they compose most of the songs and write the vast majority of the lyrics as of Chris Barnes' departure.
- Iconic Item: Webster's blood spatter-patterned Spector signature bass.
- I'll Kill You!: The song "I Will Kill You".
- I'm a Humanitarian: It's in their name, and a lot of their songs feature this.
- I Love the Dead: A common theme in their songs, such as with "Born in a Casket".
- Iconic Character: Corpsegrinder, within the death metal scene.
- In fact, the band themselves, for death metal. If you ask someone to name a death metal band, chances are it's going to be these guys (unless the person you ask doesn't know much about death metal and says "Slipknot" or "Slayer".).
- In Memoriam: The first album, Eaten Back To Life, contained a dedication to "the memory of Alfred Packer, the first American cannibal (R.I.P)".
- Incredibly Long Note: Corpsegrinder does a 15-second scream in "They Deserve to Die".
- Instrumentals: "Relentless Beating", "From Skin to Liquid" and "Infinite Misery"
- Intentionally Awkward Title: Just see the Crosses the Line Twice entry.
- The Killer Becomes the Killed: "Condemned to Agony".
- Lead Bassist: Alex Webster, Type A and C, as he's both astoundingly skilled and massively influential among metal bassists in addition to having always been the guiding force behind the band.
- Lead Drummer: Mazurkiewicz is one of two remaining founding members, in addition to writing the lion's share of their lyrics and quite a bit of their music as well.
- Live Album: Live Cannibalism.
- Torturing and Eviscerating Live from their Dead Human Collection box set is a weird take on the trope. Instead of the tracks being sorted in the order the band played them, they were sorted by the chronological order of their albums. For example, Track 1 is from album 1, track 2 is from album 2, track 3 is from album 3, and so on.
- Lighter and Softer: Many fans would say that after Chris Barnes' departure from the band, the lyrics became less sexual and were just straight up violent.
- Loudness War: All albums since Kill have had little to no dynamic range.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Deliberately, blatantly, and hilariously invoked by Andrew Hansen of The Chaser, in his lounge arrangement of "Rancid Amputation" (mentioned above).
- Man on Fire: The protagonist in "Disfigured" lights himself on fire because he loathes his appearance.
- "Sentenced to Burn" and "Blowtorch Slaughter."
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Corpsegrinder is, according to those who know him, an extremely friendly person and a devoted father. You'd never know it from the music. This extends to the band as a whole; anyone who has ever met them or toured with them will have nothing but good things to say about them as people, and they're also known for using their star power to push for up-and-coming bands to share touring bills with them.
- Metal Scream: Several, but the most epic one is the last scream of "Diiiiiiiiiie!!!" in "They Deserve to Die."
- Milestone Celebration: For their 15th anniversary of the band forming, they released "15 Year Killing Spree", a boxset featuring two "Best Of" CDs, a CD with unreleased demos, and a DVD with 3 live performances by the band.
- For their 20th anniversary, they released "Centuries of Torment: The First 20 Years": a three disc DVD set featuring a documentary that reunited almost all of the band's members.
- For their 25th anniversary, they released "Dead Human Collection: 25 Years of Death Metal": a box set containing all of their albums, a live performance on CD and vinyl, a calendar and new artwork from Vince Locke.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: Kill
- Miniscule Rocking: There are quite a few songs under 2 minutes: "Put Them to Death", "Bloody Chunks", "Puncture Wound Massacre", "Disposal of the Body", "Dismembered and Molested", "Crushing the Despised", "Savage Butchery", "Severed Head Stoning", and "Scalding Hail"
- Miscarriage of Justice: The protagonist in "The Strangulation Chair" is a victim of this.
- Misogyny Song: Barnes was very fond of this when he was in the band. These themes almost never show up now.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Their earlier stuff (pre-Corpsegrinder) is heavier than their later stuff, however both generally stick to 10.
- Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Hard 11, most definitely.
- Mondegreen: Many, considering the band's vocal style, but the most infamous one is in the beginning of "Make Them Suffer" where Corpsegrinder screams "SUFFEEEEERRRRR!" but fans like to call it "SOFFFAAAAAAAAAAA!"
- Also, in "Rabid", the scream of "RABBIDDD!" has been misheard as "RABBBITTTTT!"
- Moral Guardians: The band was a favorite target of them in the mid 90's, coming under attack from both the left and the right for their lyrics and cover art. Their albums were outright banned in Australia from 1996 to 2006, their first three albums were also banned in Germany until 2006, and they were prohibited from performing any songs from those albums while touring there. Unfortunately, it's still ongoing, as there's currently an effort to ban them from touring in Russia.
- More Deadly Than The Male: Some songs have the woman being the ruthless protagonist in some of their songs, such as "Orgasm Through Torture" and "Blunt Force Castration"
- Motor Mouth: Corpsegrinder is shown to be one of these on some of their faster songs like "Severed Head Stoning" and "Disposal of the Body".
- Murder Ballad: Uh... all of their songs? If they could be called ballads.
- Murder-Suicide: The demo version of "Puncture Wound Massacre" is about this.
- New Sound Album: Vile was the first album to feature their new vocalist Corpsegrinder and also featured lower tunings and more technical songwriting.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Hammer Smashed Face", "Fucked with a Knife", "Stripped, Raped and Strangled", and many others.
- Off with His Head!: "Headless"
- Old Shame: Rusay has apparently entirely disavowed his time in the band.
- One of Us: Corpsegrinder plays World of Warcraft and is apparently obsessed with it. He's also a fan of Final Fantasy.
- The former even has a reference to him, in Gorge the Corpsegrinder, the tank commander. "Confirmed in a recent interview with Cannibal Corpse in Decibel Magazine - "There's a character in the new World of Warcraft named after me," Fisher beams, coincidentally wearing a WOW t-shirt. "I mean, this is my favorite fucking video game and they made a character named after me. Millions of people are going to go to Gorge the CorpseGrinder and get quests from him. It's unbelievable, just unbelievable."" And he is, of course, an orc. Not some pansy alliance elf...
- One-Word Title: Up until their newest album, it happened on at least one song per album
- Our Zombies Are Different: They tend to stick with Type F. According to Alex Webster, "a cannibal corpse is a zombie that eats other zombies".
- Precision F-Strike: In "Put Them To Death"
Blood spews from their eyes
As you hear their sinful cries
Destroy their evil minds
We should take their fucking lives
Fuck you and your kind
We don't need you or your lives
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Quite a lot of examples in their music.
- "IT! WAS! MADE! TO! KIIIIIIILL!"
- "DORMANT! BODIES! BURSTING!
- The Quiet One: Apparently, Alex Webster. He's known for being extremely friendly and passionate, however.
- Rapunzel Hair: Fisher. It has made his exceedingly fast windmills an iconic part of the band's identity.
- Reclusive Artist: One of the band's original guitarists, Bob Rusay, left music entirely after he got kicked out the band, and went on to become a golf instructor. He was the only member of the band who couldn't be reached for an interview in the band's 20th anniversary DVD.
- Refuge in Audacity: Really, the entire point of the band and their music by their own admission.
- Religion Rant Song: "When Death Replaces Life" is a definite Type 2.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Corpsegrinder tends to do this to create a demonic effect in his music.
- Serial Escalation: The increasing technical proficiency of the bassists that Webster had to share the stage with in Cannibal's early days wound up being what drove him to achieve the extreme level of technical proficiency that he's famous for now. At the start, he was only using two fingers (by his own admission, he was up to a pretty good speed level with them), but when he saw Tony Choy (who was in Cynic at the time and played with three fingers) and Jason Blachowicz of Malevolent Creation (who played with four), he realized that he really needed to step it up and made the transition to three, using a specific technique that he learned from Steve DiGiorgio (then of Sadus) to achieve even greater levels of speed while maintaining greater control.
- Serial Killer: "Stripped, Raped, and Strangled" is about this.
- The Stoner: Chris Barnes. If the band's account of his departure is to be believed, he apparently wasn't careful with it and ruined his throat, rendering him unable to pull off his gutturals.
- Stylistic Suck: The "Global Evisceration" DVD has one. In the band's concert in Israel, the usual banner was replaced by a small white card with the band's name on it in blue marker to signify the band's luggage not arriving.
- Swarm of Rats: "Devoured By Vermin"
- Technical Death Metal: Some of their later work falls under this, particularly O'Brien's songs. "Frantic Disembowelment", in particular, is notoriously complex and demanding.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Many of their songs.
- Thrash Metal: Eaten Back to Life was as much thrash as it was death metal, and thrash overtones are pretty common in their work as a whole. The songs that Rob Barrett writes tend to cleave particularly close to this as well.
- Three Chords and the Truth: Mazurkiewicz's drumming style. While the guitar and bass tracks are frequently extremely technical, Mazurkiewicz sticks almost exclusively to thrash beats and the occasional blast, with fills being few and far between.
- Title of the Dead: "Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead"
- Title Only Chorus: "Severed Head Stoning".
- Uncommon Time: They're pretty fond of this. Appears more frequently in their later material, but can be heard in their earlier albums too.
- What Could Have Been: They have been mentioned for the soundtrack of the 2010 re-adaptation of Splatterhouse. Unfortunately, it never happened.
- You also have to consider what would have happened if Jeremy Turner had decided to join Cannibal Corpse full-time. As a very technical player from an even more technical band, having him partner with O'Brien probably would have changed Cannibal's sound significantly.
- Working Title: "Vile" was originally called "Created to Kill"
- "Orgasm Through Torture" was originally "Gallery of the Obscene".
- "Eaten From Inside" was originally "To Kill Myself"
- The X of Y: "Gallery of Suicide", "Disposal of the Body", "Centuries of Torment", "Chambers of Blood", "Mutation of the Cadaver", "Pit of Zombies", "The Discipline of Revenge", "Priests of Sodom", "A Cauldron of Hate".