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Music / Cannibal Corpse

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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 are 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."
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    Band members 
Current members
  • Alex Webster – bass (1988–present)
  • Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums (1988–present)
  • George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher – vocals (1995–present)
  • Rob Barrett – rhythm guitar (1993-1997, 2005–present)
  • Erik Rutan – lead guitar (2020–present)

Former members

  • Jack Owen – rhythm guitar (1988–2004)
  • Chris Barnes – vocals (1988–1995)
  • Bob Rusay – lead guitar (1988–1993)
  • Jeremy Turner – rhythm guitar (2004–2005)
  • Pat O'Brien - lead guitar (1997–2020, was on indefinite hiatus from 2018 until his formal departure)

Studio albums
  • Eaten Back to Life (1990)
  • Butchered at Birth (1991)
  • Tomb of the Mutilated (1992)
  • The Bleeding (1994)
  • Vile (1996)
  • Gallery of Suicide (1998)
  • Bloodthirst (1999)
  • Gore Obsessed (2002)
  • The Wretched Spawn (2004)
  • Kill (2006)
  • Evisceration Plague (2009)
  • Torture (2012)
  • A Skeletal Domain (2014)
  • Red Before Black (2017)
  • Violence Unimagined (2021)


  • Hammer Smashed Face (1993)
  • Sacrifice / Confessions (2000)
  • Worm Infested (2003)

Live, compilation and video albums

  • Deadly tracks (1997)
  • Monolith of Death (1997)
  • Live Cannibalism (2000)note 
  • 15 Year Killing Spree (2003)
  • Centuries of Torment: The First 20 Years (2008)
  • Global Evisceration (2011)note 
  • Dead Human Collection: 25 Years of Death Metal (2013)


  • Cannibal Corpse (1989)

Boxed sets

  • Classic Cannibal Corpse (2002)
  • Digital Box Set (2009)
  • Dead Human Collection: 25 Years of Death Metal (2013)
  • When Death Replaces Life (2017)
  • The Undead Will Feast (2019)



  • Album Title Drop: "Murderous Rampage", from Violence Unimagined, has this verse, which is played twice throughout the song:
    Violence unimagined, lasted for days
    Perverted celebration
    Cruelty unforeseen, driven by hate
    Gruesome fascination
  • Alliterative Title: The band's name itself, as well as the songs "The Spine Splitter", "Bent Backwards and Broken", "Barbaric Bludgeonings", "Beheading and Burning," "Caged... Contorted," and "Condemnation Contagion".
  • And I Must Scream: "Staring through the Eyes of the Dead" and "Dead Human Collection"
  • Ascended Extra: Erik Rutan was a longtime friend of the band who eventually became their producer, and when Pat O'Brien was forced to go on hiatus in 2018, he became his live replacement before formally taking his spot as a full member after it became clear that Pat was not going to be able to return.
  • 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". "Hammer Smashed Face" also tends to be this due to how it traditionally starts enormous, unbelievably violent pits.
  • Autocannibalism: The cover art for Eaten Back to Life depicts a zombie eating itself.
  • 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 their defining characteristics after Barnes' departure.
  • Big Fun: George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. Standing tall at 6'1, his long hair, shadowed eyes, and thick girth (and neck) makes him look like someone who's not to be fucked with. But he's also a World of Warcraft player, a loving husband and father to his two daughters, and a Nice Guy overall.
  • Bloodier and Gorier / Darker and Edgier:
    • They managed to do this to death metal, of all genres.
    • The Barnes era has been considered this to fans, in comparison to the Corpsegrinder era. While the first few albums with Corpsegrinder retained the common sexual themes from Tomb of the Mutilated and The Bleeding, starting with Gore Obsessed most songs were just about violence.
  • Bludgeoned to Death: "Hammer Smashed Face."
  • Body Horror: "Sickening Metamorphosis."
  • Bookends: "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 (prior to joining) did guitar solos on "Unnatural" and "In the Midst of Ruin", and backing vocals on "Only One Will Die".
  • 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: Out of the entirety of Death Metal, which is already a common user of this trope in general, Cannibal Corpse's artworks (all of which were drawn by comic book artist Vincent Lockenote ) are the most infamous for their usual depictions of violent and/or gory scenes. It's enough to the point that pretty much every release of theirs (except the Minimalistic Cover Art ones, see that trope below) has two covers: the normal cover, and the censored cover you'll find in stores at some countries like Australia (or in the Rock Band song selection screen).
    • The censored covers of The Bleeding and Violence Unimagined are used more often overall than the normal ones. The latter's case is kind of granted, since the original is more graphic and realistically-made in comparison to the rest of their releases.
  • 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.
  • Death from Above: "Scalding Hail."
  • Death Metal:
  • Destroy the Evidence: "Evidence in the Furnace" and "Inhumane Harvest".
  • 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."
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first album had a more thrash metal-esque tone to it, Chris Barnes' vocals were less guttural, and his lyrics were still gruesome but nowhere near as over-the-top as they were on the following three releases. This is because a fair bit of that album was comprised of leftovers from Leviathan and Tirant Sin that Chris, Paul Mazurkiewicz, and Bob Rusay had sitting around and wanted to use.
    • Really, all the releases with Chris could count, due largely to his different songwriting style. While Corpsegrinder doesn't write lyricsnote  and, at most, sometimes asks one of the lyric writers to tweak something if he really isn't feeling the vocal lines, Chris wrote all of his own lyrics and vocal lines, which he still does to this day in his current band.
  • Eaten Alive / Devoured by the Horde:
    • This is what happens to the protagonist in "Devoured by Vermin", who falls prey to a pack of rats. Even though his heart, lungs, and other vital organs are being ripped out, he can still feel pain.
    • The protagonist of "Pit of Zombies" is eaten by an horde of zombies in the end.
      • The cover art of Gore Obsessed, the album from which "Pit of Zombies" comes, also features a similar depiction.
  • 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", "A Skeletal Domain", and "Shedding My Human Skin".
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: To chose from just the most extreme examples, we have "Necropedophile", "Entrails Ripped From A Virgin's Cunt" and "Meat Hook Sodomy". Of course, the band name itself is also an example.
  • 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 censored cover of the album The Bleeding is that of the bloody chest of the man who's being zombified in the normal artwork.
    • The censored covers of Vile and Violence Unimagined can be seen as more unnerving than the regular ones by some, since they zoom in on the main characters' faces.
  • Gun Nut: Pat O'Brien owns nearly 80 firearms, mostly rifles and shotguns.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Jack Owen. Rob Barrett is also getting there.
  • Harsh Vocals: Chris Barnes had far deeper and huskier growls while Corpsegrinder had faster ones, while making more use of the occasional Metal Scream.
  • Hate Plague: The theme of their 2009 album, Evisceration Plague.
  • Hotter and Sexier: While Butchered at Birth had traces about sexual fetishes like with "Meat Hook Sodomy", Tomb of the Mutilated completely introduced them as a common theme (in gory style, as always); the only track of the album empty of sex was "Hammer Smashed Face". The following albums would continue with them in a progressively reduced proportion, though they would be gone by Gore Obsessed.
  • I Am the Band: Paul Mazurkiewicz and Alex Webster 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: Alex Webster's blood splatter-patterned Spector signature bass.
  • I'll Kill You!: The song "I Will Kill You."
  • I'm a Humanitarian: It is in their name, and a lot of their songs feature this.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Regardless of who pulled the trigger first, Barnes was not going to stay in the band. They wanted to write more technical and complex material (which he hated) and were getting sick of his declining vocal ability, while Barnes was much happier with Six Feet Under and knew full well that what he wanted out of Cannibal was not what the rest of the band wanted and they were going to do what they wanted to do with or without him. The story goes that when they called him up while he was on tour with Six Feet Under to tell him that they had found a new guy and his services were no longer needed, his response was along the lines of "it's all good, I was going to call you after this run ended to tell you I quit anyways". However, he still remains on good terms with the band to this day, and they support each other's work.
  • I Love the Dead: A common theme in their songs, such as with "Born in a Casket."
  • 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: Common, with titles like "I Cum Blood", "Fucked With A Knife" and "Entrails Ripped From A Virgin's Cunt".
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: "Condemned to Agony."
  • Lead Bassist: Alex Webster, Type A and C, as he is both astoundingly skilled and massively influential among metal bassists in addition to having always been the guiding force behind the band.
  • Lead Drummer: Paul 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 by Gore Obsessed.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The Webster/Mazurkiewicz/Fisher/O'Brien/Barrett lineup was a Type 2, lasting from 2005 up until Pat formally left at some unknown date, most likely late 2019 or early 2020.
  • 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's War on Everything, 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."
  • Metal Scream: Several, but the most epic one is the last scream of "Diiiiiiiiiie!!!" in "They Deserve to Die."
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Kill and Evisceration Plague, with Red Before Black also being a downplayed example. Kill was that way largely by accident; the original piece they got back from Vincent Locke was apparently excellent, but wasn't really suitable as a cover piece, so they did the best that they could with what little time was available.
  • Miniscule Rocking: There are quite a few songs under two 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: Chris Barnes was very fond of this when he was in the band. A couple post-Barnes songs qualify, but even those are far tamer than anything that he ever wrote.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Their Barnes-era work is often considered to be heavier than most albums with Corpsegrinder (exclusions including Bloodthirst and Kill, which are arguably their heaviest releases), but most of their songs in both eras generally stick to 10.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Hard 11, most definitely.
  • 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 (though this was because censorship laws were being reformed in there at the time), 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, this appears to be still ongoing, as there has been a recent effort to ban them from touring in Russia.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Some of their songs have a woman as the ruthless protagonist, 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.
    • This is also the case with "Disfigured", though the murder part is vaguely described.
  • New Sound Album: Vile was the first album to feature their current vocalist Corpsegrinder, and also had lower tunings (B-flat, aided by Jack Owen switching to a seven-string; Rob and Patrick still use this tuning, but are strictly six-string players) and more technical songwriting.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Hammer Smashed Face," "Fucked with a Knife," "Stripped, Raped and Strangled," and many others.
  • Noodle Incident: When Corpsegrinder was asked in an interview if he ever spoke with Chris Barnes, he said that he did, but that as of a few years prior to said interview, they were not on speaking terms anymore. Apparently, Chris blocked Corpsegrinder on Instagram because he thought he heard him talk shit about him on stage, which Corpsegrinder said he may have done, but did not intend to set him off, and that since then, they haven't talked. Aside from that, no further details were shared, and it's likely that Corpsegrinder nor Chris will ever tell the whole story.
  • Offing the Offspring: The "evil parent" type of this trope is a theme in a few of their songs. For example, "Necropedophile" involves a father killing his children so that he can use them as sex dolls.
    • This also appears to be the case with the woman decapitating a newborn baby (or unborn fetus, whether it was alive or not is quite ambiguous) in the cover art of Violence Unimagined.
  • Older Than They Look: Corpsegrinder looks like he's in his mid or maybe late 30's. He's actually 50, making him less than two years younger than former vocalist Chris Barnes (who still looks good for being in his early 50s but is visibly middle-aged). This also holds true for most of the band; Rob is the only one who is starting to show his age (he recently reached the age of 50) by way of an ever-growing bald spot.
  • One-Winged Angel: "Shedding My Human Skin".
  • One-Word Title: For albums, Vile, Bloodthirst, Kill and Torture. Up until Red Before Black, this also happened on at least a few songs 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
    • Later in the same song:
    Fuck you and your kind
    We don't need you or your lives
    • One of the lines in "Murderous Rampage", which is repeated twice:
    Stale blood-drained bodies rotting
    Once alive, now forgotten
    Slaughtered for no fucking reason
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Quite a lot of examples in their music.
    • In "The Wretched Spawn": "IT! WAS! MADE! TO! KIIIIIIILL!"
    • In "Dormant Bodies Bursting": "DORMANT! BODIES! BURSTING!"
  • The Quiet One: Apparently, Alex Webster. He is known for being extremely friendly and passionate, however.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Corpsegrinder. It has made his exceedingly fast windmills an iconic part of the band's identity.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Really, the entire point of the band and their music by their own admission. Streaming service Rhapsody even admitted that they weren't allowed to print some of the titles to the bands songs!
  • Religion Rant Song: "When Death Replaces Life" is a definite Type 2.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: The video for "Code of the Slashers".
  • 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 Alex Webster had to share the stage with in Cannibal Corpse's early days wound up being what drove him to achieve the extreme level of technical proficiency that he is 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 Di Giorgio (then of Sadus) to achieve even greater levels of speed while maintaining greater control.
  • Serial Killer: "Stripped, Raped, and Strangled" is about this.
  • Special Guest: Erik Rutan filled in for Pat O'Brien on the band's live dates for 2019 before replacing him as a permanent member the following year.
  • 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 consistently. As of his time in Six Feet Under, he is now infamous for being a very inconsistent vocalist both live and in studio thanks to this.
  • Strictly Formula: In the twenty-seven years that they've been releasing albums, they have had no real meaningful stylistic shifts. When someone buys a Cannibal Corpse album, they know what they're getting, and while most albums have some sort of individual motif or feel to distinguish them that largely depends on who did the bulk of the writing, they will not feature any major deviations from their established style.
  • 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 Pat O'Brien's songs, and Torture is probably the closest that they've ever actually come to making a full tech album. "Frantic Disembowelment," in particular, is notoriously complex and demanding; the band only played it live once and dropped it because the crowd reaction was not anywhere near enthusiastic enough to justify keeping a song that is apparently physically painful to play on the setlist.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Many of their songs.
  • The Titling: "The Bleeding"
  • 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; Red Before Black, in particular, was noted as being a bit of a return to their death/thrash roots. The songs that Rob Barrett writes tend to cleave particularly close to this as well.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Paul Mazurkiewicz's drumming style. While the guitar and bass tracks are frequently extremely technical, Paul 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."
  • Title Track: Butchered at Birth, The Bleeding, Gallery of Suicide, The Wretched Spawn, Evisceration Plague, A Skeletal Domain and Red Before Black have title tracks. Even some albums that don't have one, like Bloodthirst ("Unleashing the Bloodthirsty") and Kill ("The Time to Kill is Right Now"), will have a title similar to one of the tracks, mostly in the form of a shortened version.
  • Trash of the Titans: The house that Alex Webster rented in Buffalo with several friends back during the days of Beyond Death was absolutely disgusting; as a bunch of guys in their late teens and early twenties, they cared way more about coming home from work to get drunk and high and blast metal than cleaning, and it got so filthy at one point that they attracted a cockroach infestation.
  • Uncommon Time: They're pretty fond of this. Appears more frequently in their later material, but can be heard in their earlier albums too.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Bob Rusay. They made it clear on Centuries of Torment that while his ever-increasing sloppiness forced their hand in firing him, it hurt to have to do so and they honestly wanted to stay friends with the dude. Rusay, however, took it extremely badly, cut everyone in the band out of his life, and left music altogether (going so far as to reject royalty checks), and while Alex, Paul, Jack, and Chris have all tried to extend olive branches to him at various points over the years, he has consistently ignored them.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: "Bound and Burned" involves an unnamed person killing someone responsible in their abuse during youth.
  • 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," "Scourge of Iron," and "Vector of Cruelty."
  • Zombie Apocalypse: "Kill or Become".


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