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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."

Current band members:

  • Alex Webster – bass (1988–present)
  • Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums (1988–present)
  • George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher – vocals (1995–present)
  • Pat O'Brien – lead guitar (1997–present)
  • Rob Barrett – rhythm guitar (1993-1997, 2005–present)

Former members:

  • Jack Owen – rhythm guitar (1988–2004)
  • Chris Barnes – vocals (1988–1995)
  • Bob Rusay – lead guitar (1988–1993)
  • Jeremy Turner – guitar (2004–2005)


  • 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


Hammer Smashed 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". "Hammer Smashed Face" also tends to be this due to how it traditionally starts enormous, unbelievably violent pits.
  • 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.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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, in comparison to the Corpsegrinder era.
  • 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 until he returned for Red Before Black) 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.
  • 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".
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • "Pit of Zombies"
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 spatter-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".
  • 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.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The Webster/Mazurkiewicz/Fisher/O'Brien/Barrett lineup is a Type 2.
  • 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
  • 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 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!"
    • For "Hammer Smashed Face," we have parodies like COFFEEEEEE! Even the comments on regular videos with enough views will get in on the fun.
  • 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 is 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 (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.
  • Off with His Head!: "Headless"
  • Older Than They Look: Corpsegrinder looks like he is in his mid or maybe late 30's. He is actually 48, making him less than two years younger than former vocalist Chris Barnes (who 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 is 50) by way of an ever growing bald spot.
  • One-Winged Angel: "Shedding My Human Skin".
  • 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
    • Later in the same song,
    Fuck you and your kind
    We don't need you or your lives
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Quite a lot of examples in their music.
  • 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 is filling in for Pat O'Brien on the announced live dates for 2019.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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," "Vector of Cruelty."
  • Zombie Apocalypse: "Kill or Become"


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