Monday, September 15, 2008

Album Review #1: Eaten Back to Life

Metal Blade Records

The gore metal album that started it all for me. I remember being 11 years old and shopping with my Mom at the local outdoor flea market, gravitating toward the music stand where I could browse through the latest cassettes. I pulled Eaten Back to Life from the bin because the cover art caught my eye (which I would discover in later life was by the brilliant horror artist Vince Locke). The guy at the stand was hesitant to sell me the tape and told me the album probably "wasn't for me," but I had to have it. My Mom gave me enough money for two cassettes, and I left that day with NIN Pretty Hate Machine (1989) and of course, Eaten Back to Life.

Unitl then I had bands like Motley Crue and Poison on heavy rotation. The closest I got to horror music was Michael Jackson's Thriller. Cannibal Corpse was unlike anything I had ever heard - they had everything a kid could want - heavy double bass petals, speed metal riffs, muddy bass, and a decomposing zombie ripping out his organs in a cemetery on the front cover. I remember sitting in my room with my headphones on (I was afraid my Mom would hear) and reading along to the lyrics of Shredded Humans, the opening track, about a family mutilated in a car crash and their guts spread out across the highway. The band had an uncanny ability to paint a gruesome and violent picture through sound, transmitted by the gutteral vocals of Chris Barnes. The lyrics read like a horror story. Take this excerpt from Edible Autopsy for example:

Guts and blood, bones are broken. As they eat your pancreas. Human liver, for their dinner. Or maybe soup with eyes. Cause of death, still unknown. Gnawing meat, from your bones. Bone saw binding in your skull. Brains are oozing a human stump. Needles injected, through your eyes. Puiling off flesh, skinned alive.

Too young to rent R-rated horror films on my own, I relied on bands like Cannibal Corpse and my daily dose of Tales From The Crypt comics for my horror fix. After that day I spent a good bit of my life searching for the heaviest, most brutal music I could get my hands on. I later discovered death metal bands like Carcass and Death (Heartwork and Scream Bloody Gore still hold a special place in my heart) and thrash/grindcore bands like Napalm Death. While Cannibal Corpse drew its influences from death metal bands of the 80's, no band could top their disturbing and gory cover art. They took extreme music to the extreme, and continued to push the envelope with every release. Butchered at Birth showed two zombies chopping up babies on a butcher's block, with the carcasses of children hanging behind them on meat hooks. Tomb of the Mutilated showed a male zombie performing oral sex on a gutted woman. These images will be forever scarred in my memory.

The band changed singers in 1995 after releasing a few albums, bringing George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher on board to replace Barnes. Even after changing their front man, the band's popularity was unaffected and they gained a loyal cult following over the years, releasing 10 studio albums and changing the face of American death metal forever. They continue to tour and have remained true to their horror roots. Check out the band's website at:

No comments: