Cannibal Corpse

Metal Blade Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I had better warn you: this review might not be for those with sensitive constitutions. Then again, I probably lost them once they saw the cover art.

Chances are, there are some people who won't be able to read this review -- and even if they can, they might not be able to purchase the album in question. For Cannibal Corpse, one of the bands who could rightfully be called the godfathers of grindcore, have been banned in many countries due to the brutality of their lyrics and their graphic cover art. (I'll even admit that the cover of their latest release, Bloodthirst, made me a little ill -- but that was after I took some time to actually study the cover. On a passing glance, it didn't bother me that much.)

Why so many people make such a fuss about this band's lyrical content, I don't know. Truth be told, I've heard more brutal and graphic things from other bands. But what I will say for Cannibal Corpse is this: they know how to keep the energy level high for a good portion of the album. If only they could inject some more variety into the songwriting, 'cause Bloodthirst was a little hard to keep interested in near the end. But more on that in a minute.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Give vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher some credit in that you can often understand him without having to consult the lyric sheet. (Hey, maybe that's why they get banned in some places; you can't speak out against what you can't decipher.) Also, props are in order to the rest of the band -- guitarists Jack Owen and Pat O'Brien, bassist Alex Webster and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz -- for actually daring to inject some melody into a genre that isn't always noted for such niceties.

Now, I'll admit I'm biased in the fact that I happen to enjoy the occasional slice of grindcore in my musical diet. I fell in love with Napalm Death the first time I heard avant-garde saxophonist John Zorn play them on a college radio show. I've partaken in such delicacies as At The Gates, The Dead Youth and Morbid Angel from time to time, and I wasn't afraid to go back for seconds. But I've got to hand it to Cannibal Corpse in that, after a decade in the industry, they know how to keep things sounding fresh.

As for the brutal lyrical content... Christ, some of this could have come from the Viking metal that I seem to have been inundated with over the past few months. Sample lyric, from "Unleashing The Bloodthirsty": "Decapitate the man / They hold his head aloft / Headless body slumps / The blood is gushing out." One word: Beowulf. (Yeah, that should bring back memories from your high school literature courses.)

Okay, I'll concede that some of the lyrical content might not be for the little kiddies -- but I don't think many of them would immediately be drawn to songs like "Raped By The Beast" anyway -- and I still stand by my assertion that I've heard worse from bands that don't get nearly half the bad press that this group does.

As grindcore goes, Bloodthirst is a pretty solid half-album or so. The problem comes in arond the three-quarters mark, where the songwriting seems to fall back on the same styles used to success earlier in the album. Is this necessarily a bad thing? No, but when you have an album of this nature, you don't expect to hear re-runs so quickly. As a result, it's harder to stay focused on songs like "Condemned To Agony" and "Blowtorch Slaughter."

By no means is Bloodthirst a bad album; if anything, Cannibal Corpse shows that the grindcore genre is still alive and kicking -- and is a genre worth keeping an eye on when metal makes its return to commercial popularity. But if the album commits any real sin, it's that it's not quite cutting edge enough for my tastes, and needed a touch more development in the second half of the disc. Otherwise, here's the album you'll want to keep hidden from the minister when he comes over for Sunday dinner.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.