REAL METAL RARELY gets a fair shake in the press. Actually, it doesn't get much press at all, save as the butt of condescending jokes and the whipping boy for a greasy pile-up of PC outrage. While its retarded brother, rap-metal (shudder), makes billionaires out of the likes of Limp Bizkit and Korn, real metal shambles on like the titanium skeleton of the Terminator, sans airplay and sans major label marketing, making it to the millennium solely on the sheer willingness of fans to shell out $25 for black long-sleeved T-shirts.
Fenix, Wednesday, February 23
Don't get me wrong. These fans, for the most part, aren't lemmings who eat everything churned out to them on a dark, gore-covered LP. On the contrary, in talking to any serious metal fan you're much less likely to hear about what's good than about what sucks and who's sold out—usually just about everyone. Maybe it's the grumbling mind-set of someone who willingly subjects him or herself to sounds of jackhammers and puppies dropped into inverted lawnmowers, and lyrics claiming that even Satan is just a "big pussy." Maybe it's because the bar has been set unreachably high by legendary blister bands like Slayer, Sabbath, Napalm Death, and Bathory, and most everything that comes out seems to merely ape everyone's favorite records of the past. Yet, amidst (and probably because of) all the hate, the parade of metal staggers on.
At the forefront of this rotten parade marches Cannibal Corpse, possibly the most vilified metal band to ever vomit maggot-infested power chords onto the world stage. They're forbidden in Australia, banned in New Zealand, and forever exiled from the moral stalwart that is South Korea. The German government restricts what songs they can play within the nation's borders. Bob Dole singled them out as the cause of America's decline. Hard Copy gnashed their pointy teeth of sensationalist outrage at the rockers. And everyone from the P.M.R.C. to your mom has used the lyrics of Cannibal Corpse to justify the placing of everything more extreme than A Burl Ives Christmas 30 feet above the reach of tiny little fingers.
ORIGINALLY FROM BUFFALO and more recently operating from the bug-infested swamps of Florida, Cannibal Corpse fits right in with its death metal neighbors Morbid Angel and Deicide, who all seem to be struggling to reinvent themselves. I mean, what do you do after you've already revolutionized your genre? After 10 years of grinding out chords to acne-scarred longhairs, you're not suited to do much more than answer the phones at Pizza Hut. So you keep churning out records, hoping that you can maintain the same energy level and eventually amass enough of a back catalog to keep your fridge stocked with High Life. It comes at a price: continual touring and suffering the barbs of fans who, after paying big bucks to see you, chant in unison for the songs off the classic album you recorded back in 1989 and boo when you play anything new. Everyone loves to hate their heroes.
True, it might be difficult to declare songs like "Puncture Wound Massacre" and "Entrails Ripped from a Virgin's Cunt" as classics, but for every one of you who shakes your butt extra-hard when the DJ blasts "Karma Chameleon," there's a temp worker next to you whose eyes will light up if you even mention the words "Eaten Back to Life." And I can't be the only boy to ever put "Hammer Smashed Face" on a mix tape for my girl, now can I?
So have Cannibal Corpse made themselves obsolete yet? Many fans argue that the early records, made with original screamer Chris Barnes, are superior to their more recent stuff, which features George "Corpsegrinder" Fischer at lead throat. Corpse's latest efforts—Vile, Gallery of Suicide, and Bloodthirst—while relatively interchangeable soundwise, ring better in my ears. And I'm going to the show. But then again, I totally suck.