Napalm Flesh: Cannibal Corpse Interview

Posted April 5, 2012 in
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This week is brought to you by the letter C and, as always, the number 666. We’ve got an interview with Cannibal Corpse drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz with a throwback link to an interview with the notorious death metal skinsman conducted in 2007 by SLUG. We also have a slew of reviews from Caliban, Children of God, Eddie Brock, Exumer and The Love Below, as well as your weekly concert lowdown—lots happening this week. It’s a free for all smorgasbord!

This Friday, April 6, check out some bands soon to be featured in Napalm Flesh as Protest the Hero, Periphery, Jeff Loomis, The Safety Fire and Today I Caught the Plague play In the Venue. All ages, tickets $18-20 are available. Doors open early at 5:30 p.m.

Logan is going to get leveled this Friday with Gravetown, Adipocere, Dethblo and Odium Totus playing Why Sound, 30 Federal Ave. Tunes at 8 p.m., $5 for all ages.

Go breath in the salty air at well, Saltair with GWAR (Check out our interview with frontman Oderus Orungus from our November 2009 issue), Municipal Waste, Ghoul, and Legacy of Disorder on Tuesday, April 10. All ages, tickets are $20, doors at 7:30 p.m.

For something completely different, but still metal(ish), check out Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits at Burt’s on Tuesday, April 10 with hometown support from Chainwhip and Greenery Love Inebriation (or GLI). $5 (21+), music at 9 p.m.

Interview with Cannibal Corpse drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz

SLUG: How long did you guys work on the new album, Torture?
Mazurkiewicz: Well, it actually started toward the end of the Evisceration Plague touring cycle. Normally, a lot of writing isn't getting done on the road. We like to be home and really concentrating on that, and 99 percent of the time, that's how we get stuff done. But for some reason, this time Pat [O'Brien] ended up writing two songs before the year's end, and that was in 2010. That's when we were doing our last bit of touring, towards November or December. We came up with these songs, we just decided we had some time to work on them, the ideas were pretty solid. So basically, “Followed Home and Killed” and “Torn Through” were the two songs that we were working on. The touring was done at this point, and we didn't really hit full throttle writing until January of 2011, knowing we were going to concentrate on that, and we weren't going to have any shows. So we were already two up on the game in a sense, which was kind of cool. But the fact that we didn't record then until September of 2011, we had a solid eight months to complete the rest of the songs and to practice. Normally, we're at about six months when that occurs. It seemed like we had a little bit more time with those extra couple of months to fine-tune everything and get everything written and ready. So we hit the studio in September, completed in November, and finally the release date is upon us. It's been a long time coming, because we got to spend a little more time on this than most.

SLUG: Tell me a little more about your writing process for Torture.
Mazurkiewicz: When we started writing and had these ideas, me and [Pat O’Brien, guitars] kind of came together to write the songs. We've got three major songwriters in the band: Rob [Barrett, guitars], Pat and Alex [Webster,bass]. Alex has written a lot of material over the years for Cannibal, probably the most out of any member ever. Everyone writes, of course, differently. It seems to be done more individually these days. Alex will be writing his songs in his home studio, doing all the work on the computer and tabbing it out, doing all the arrangement, putting down drum tracks from a drum machine, just to have a whole song done, where we can kind of learn it as musicians. That really helps us, of course. Rob's starting to dabble in that a little bit more, at least getting his riffs down on a quick track, or even some basic drum patterns. He did that with one of his songs, “The Sarcophagic Frenzy.” His other two were more conventional, just coming up with the riffs old-school style—me and him get together, kinda work on the arrangement a little bit. Pat's very similar in the way he writes—he's not so much into the technical aspect of his writing the way Alex is doing at all. That's kind of the way we're at with the music. But man, just having three great songwriters is great. I should add for me personally, having Rob and Pat contribute a little more, than on the last record is such a great thing. They both wrote the best songs they've ever written for Cannibal. I think Rob's three are just pure Cannibal, and I think they're the three best songs he's ever written. Pat as well, something about these songs have a lot more feel to them, and I'm really happy with the way they turned out. I think we've got a great, diverse album, with everyone contributing.

SLUG: So what first interested you in gore and horror?
Mazurkiewicz: It all stems from when we grew up. We're all products of the '80s music scene. When brand new bands were hearing the first Metallica and Slayer and all that stuff in the early '80s, it was bands like that taking metal to a different level and making it more aggressive and more kind of evil in a way. The subject matter was getting darker because the music was getting darker and more intense. So of course, our favorite bands growing up were Slayer and Kreator and Sodom, anything that was brutal in our eyes. But of course, they were writing about dark subject matter, it's all about the macabre things, and a lot of them have to do with death. To us, it always went hand in hand with that kind of music. We wanted to make music and listen and look at albums we as fans wanted to see. When we came up with our name, and that was Alex, I don't know if he was into all of that stuff, but when you're really solidifying a band name like that, what else can it be about? It's going to be about the horror, macabre, zombies, and crazy stuff like that. It's not ruling our lives, but we're teenagers growing up, loving that genre, watching movies and reading books about it. We liked it, so it made sense. Now we're a band that can put music, visuals, and lyrics out there that we want to see as fans, and take it to another level.

SLUG: Yeah, and while most death metal bands will have a political or an anti-religious phase, you guys just stick with the gore.
Mazurkiewicz: We know we're kind of pigeonholed, but we love that. That's our challenge in a sense: to do something a little bit different at least. Sure, the subject matter ain't gonna change much, but a lot of it is how you go about things—using little subtleties that might not be very apparent, but to us it's huge.

SLUG: You guys have been around for almost a quarter of a century. How do you see the metal scene now versus when you were just starting?
Mazurkiewicz: I think it's come a long way. Of course, metal in general wasn't that big back when we started. In December of '88 this new music form was starting up called Death Metal, and so it was all very new and different. It's weird to fast forward now to 25 years later, and it's been around. If anything, I think it's doing better than it ever has. When you've got bands like us selling the records we're selling, and other forms of very extreme music that are really doing very well, that's a good thing. I think it took years for this to occur, you know, society's changing. They're adapting. We've been around long enough. You've got kids growing up and the first thing they might be hearing and getting into might be some crazy death metal or Cannibal Corpse or whatever. That's not how it was when we were growing up, of course. I think it's definitely a little more accepted because it's been generations now that it's been around.

SLUG: Looking back, do you think Cannibal Corpse has lived up to your original expectations for the band?
Mazurkiewicz: There's really never been any expectations other than just to play music we want to play, and we never looked any more forward than that, since day one. You just set out to make a band and play music you like to play with your friends, and anything else beyond that is just a perk, and things happen and that's great. We're just trying to better ourselves as musicians, and every year is a different story and a different attitude. That's just the way life goes. It took us twenty-say years to get to the top of our game, just honing our skills and maturing. Getting older, getting wiser. I can't explain it fully. We're still around today, going on 24 years, and arguably the best we've ever been. Yeah, you would have to look back and say yeah, to get to this point, a lot of good things obviously have happened to us, and we must have been doing the right things. I wouldn't change anything. I'm very appreciative of what has become of the band, and anything that we get from the band, because it's a dream come true. It's remarkable to think we've been around this long. I would never have believed or guessed that. Never in a million years.

SLUG: Yeah and there was a period where you faced lots of censorship based on your album art and lyrical content. Now it seems like you're able to dictate the course of the band.
Mazurkiewicz: Unfortunately, we're going to deal with that over the course of our career. A lot of bands do, it happens. The most important thing for us was always the same thing – the music. As long as people can get the music. It's unfortunate that they're gonna censor the cover, and maybe you can't get the lyrics, but in this day and age, it can be obtained. With the internet now, chances are you're going to be able to obtain it in some other manner. Which is good, because that couldn't have happened back in the day. It would have been a lot harder. But we've always just done our thing. We'd kind of shrug it aside, anything that happens to us is always ridiculous in that sense. As long as the fans are getting the music, that's the most important thing. We stuck to what we believe in, and we haven't done anything different. The censorship has eased up a lot, it's definitely not what it was ten, fifteen years ago. Like I said, we do our thing, and we can't be stopped. But it's not up to us. It's unfortunate that things are going to get censored, but so be it. I'm glad it's not like it used to be. It hasn't stopped us, you know, here we are, 23 years, 12 albums. We're not going anywhere.

Check out what Paul had to say five years ago in an interview with SLUG around the time the bands album Kill was released.

Exclusive CD Reviews

I Am Nemesis
Century Media
Street: 02.03
Caliban = Dark Tranquility + diet Heaven Shall Burn + As I Lay Dying
German metalcore veterans Caliban have returned with their 8th studio album, making me realize I’ve missed a lot of their work since I wrote them off after the As I Lay Dying rip-off that was The Undying Darkness—which was a shame, really, because their efforts prior to that had been solid, enjoyable, and ahead of their time. I Am Nemesis has a lot more of that former promise and in fact is heavier than they’ve been in a long time, flirting with elements of deathcore on songs such as “We Are The Many” and “No Tomorrow.” The drums are by far the creative winner on Nemesis, with tracks like “Boogeyman” punching you in the face with some rapid-fire double bass just when you least expect it. The basic structure of building up to a catchy verse hasn’t changed, and Caliban knows how to utilize it to its maximum, making the clean singing sections more powerful and emotional than they may have been otherwise. Listen for some sweet guest vocals from Mitch Luker of Suicide Silence and the epic Marcus Bischoff of Heaven Shall Burn, cranking the heavy to 11. Caliban influenced generations of metalcore bands, and it’s nice to hear them owning their creation again. –Megan Kennedy

Children of God
Street: 04.01
Children of God = Hordes + Burned Up, Bled Dry
A one song flexi disc? Is this gonna become a thing again? Victimized doesn't really rank as an essential introduction to these SoCal cretins, as their split with Seven Sisters of Sleep was far superior. The song ain't bad, good blast beat throughout, (fast loud, furious) but the recording runs a little on the "tinny and thin" side and would've done better on a compilation with other bands of their ilk. Still, the format's an interesting one and A389's a quality organization made of mostly solid gold. Throwing a few bucks on this one can't hurt too much, but dig into their previous release a little more beforehand. –Dylan Chadwick

Eddie Brock
Brand New Day
Street: 04.01
Eddie Brock = Spazz + Lack of Interest + ACxDC
I'm as sick of all this comic book crap as the next guy (the shtick is as gimmicky as Chuck Norris jokes) but I back hateful PV played in all the vein of the Slap-a-Ham heavies. They call themselves Superpower Violence (clever, no?), B-more's Eddie Brock hammers through five furious tracks of seething ripper-hate with funny titles (all hail Chris Dodge), requisite blast beats and a vocalist so venomous you can feel the spittle-flecks coating your headphones when it's all over (a paltry six minutes later). The split with Lapse (remember that demo cover? Macaulay Culkin sippin' jizz) was a good indication of the band's prowess and so "I'll B There 4 U" channels some o' the neo-tuff stuff Chi-town's Nachos have been doing with headache slow romps and "Strawberry Jamz" has a "smash your roommate in the face with a step-ladder" mosh part that can't go unnoticed. Cop cop cop! There's flowers on the cover! –Dylan Chadwick

Fire & Damnation
Metal Blade
Street: 04.10
Exumer = Grip Inc. + Exodus + Onslaught + Heathen
Semi-obscure German thrash metal group from the mid-to-late 80s that faded into obscurity once 1990 started – check. Thrash metal being immensely cool again? Well it was always cool the fans are just back in glorious numbers. Germany’s Exumer had reincarnated in different forms after they called it quits in 1990, but with help from Metal Blade and the obvious reinvigorated love of thrash from well over a decade into the “millennium,” it’s perfect breeding ground for those bands that would’ve/should’ve/could’ve had the glory in the day to get some glory and praise now. Two founding members strong (bassist/vocalist Mem Von Stein and guitarist Ray Mensh), Exumer are back under the banner of Metal Blade and are enjoying a nicely beefed up production sound. The sound doesn’t go into the realm of over-production, but updates the thrashers’ sound thanks to modern recording technology. Fire & Damnation sounds like it could have been the predecessor of the 1987s’ Rising from the Sea album and sounds somewhat surprisingly out of the typical German thrash stereotype. The record sounds strongly American with the German crossover effect but so did Possessed by Fire and aforementioned record – all well worth seeking out in addition to this new paint-peeler. The riffs are big here, the dual guitar attack punches hard and fast, “Fallen Saint,” shreds beyond shredding and has modern thrash classic written all over it. Some of the riffing on this “reunion” album feels a tad redundant, but the mix of bass, drums, guitars and vocals works to near-perfection, demanding listeners to play the record loud. If within 30 seconds from the album opener and title track you’re not banging your head or starting your own circle pit (imaginary or real), you had better go invest in some hearing-aids. This beats the living hell out of the droves of new bands playing “old school” thrash. Add an updated version of the “fuck you” anthem that was the bands last albums song “I Dare You,” and your reasons to pick this monstrosity of thrash metal up have already compounded upon any reason not to. –Bryer Wharton

The Love Below
Demo 2009
Street: 04.01
The Love Below = H100's + Left for Dead
A few years back I made a zine. I thought it was good, Razorcake dissed it and my goofball friends told me it sucked. Whatever. This band sent me their demo for review and it made an impression on me for two reasons: first that the band takes their name from the good side of Outkast's double album and second that there was a picture of a dong scrawled on the CD-R. Cool to see this getting the vinyl once-over because for all the "Rage, fury, yadda yadda" that every single hardcore band gets giggle-shrieked onto 'em, The Love Below does it better than most with awesome songs, misanthropic samples "do you think god is going to save you for being stupid?" and the "drumming on an empty oil can" aesthetic that wets my whistle. Good demo, so cop it before you have to pose hard when Every Tongue Shall Caress drops. Eat a peach and freak out baby. –Dylan Chadwick