Death-metal veterans Cannibal Corpse are sounding pretty damn regressive 30 years in. Info/tix
Cannibal Corpse's name has become synonymous with all that is brutal and gruesome in death metal since the Buffalo, New York band's 1991 album, Butchered At Birth, amassed a large following across the world. The band has influenced countless death metal bands and the over-the-top animated series Metalocalypse. Now in its 30th year, the band is touring behind its 14th studio album, 2017's Red Before Black. The album is, well, about as refreshing as every other band's 14th album. The blastbeats, sweeping guitar solos, and inhuman growls have aged like a rancid wine. Tracks like "Scavenger Consuming Death" and "Code Of Slashers" bring some new, raw elements to Cannibal Corpse's songwriting, but most of the other songs here could have been left on the butcher's block. It is impressive and commendable that Cannibal Corpse has kept the act going this long, but the last few albums have felt like unnecessary sequels to B-side slasher flicks.
Despite Cannibal Corpse's hallowed name in the halls of metal, the bleating, mutilated, and unavoidable elephant in the room is its lyrical style, criticized and protested all over the world for its violent and disturbing content. Violence and misogyny have infected the genre since its inception, but Cannibal Corpse doesn't seem too interested in assessing its own relationship with these ills. Frontman George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher has made it clear that he doesn't think the band's lyrics have an impact in reality and once stated in an interview: "It's art, just look at it as art. Yeah, it's disgusting, but that's never gonna happen." But—major content warning—songs like "Meat Hook Sodomy," "Entrails Ripped From A Virgin's Cunt," and "Fucked With A Knife" embody an attitude toward women and violence that can't simply be explained away as fantasy.
It's easy to continue to claim that this kind of gruesome backwardness is endemic to death metal. It's easy to say that this band deserves accolades for its role in defining a genre. But until fans decide to talk about the problem with lyrics and depictions that actively engage in violence, fictional or not, the giants of the genre will continue to reap the riches and the attitudes embodied in these words will continue to have a profound impact on our world.
Taking second billing at this show is the ethereal death metal band Hate Eternal, who put out a killer new album, Upon Desolate Sands, in late October of this year. Harm's Way, a thrashing hardcore act from Chicago, opens the night, hopefully with a few tracks from their stunning 2011 release Isolation. If you're not sold on the openers, then there's always the chance you can be onscreen for the third installment of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. —John McCracken