The unleashing of a new Cannibal Corpse savaging is always a cause for eager investigation and so the recent release of thirteen studio album A Skeletal Domain was met with enthusiastic intrigue. No matter your taste for their visceral sounds, the US death metallers has been an undeniable driving inspiration and boundary beater within the genre which the new release reaffirms with raw potency. Leaping at the chance to get a glimpse into the making and background to the album, we took some of the spare time of bassist Alex Webster as the band continue on their successful European tour, to talk album, new producer, zombie video, and much more…
Hi Alex and thanks for sparing time to talk with us.
With latest album A Skeletal Domain earning predominantly and deserved acclaim from fans, the metal underground, and beyond since its recent release, did you have any specific hopes and expectations for its unleashing, other than hoping it is liked of course?
Not really. I mean, we feel the same way about all of the albums when we put them out I think. A new album represents the best music we could make at that point in time. I guess since we had a different producer this time we were interested to see what people would think of that, but really our expectations were about the same as always.
Your thirteenth studio album, how were emotions around the unveiling of a new release after two and a half decades laying waste to metal and ears?
Like I said, about the same as always. We are very proud of the new album and hope that our fans will like it.
We felt there was of course the recognisable Cannibal Corpse sound to the album but also fresh exploratory twists to its voracious enterprise and vehemence fuelled depths. How does its sound and presence differ from say its predecessor Torture for you there on the inside?
I think the biggest difference is probably in the production, which was handled by Mark Lewis this time around, rather than Erik Rutan. Both are great producers but each has a different way of approaching recording.
I think the album is also a bit different when it comes to song writing. It just sounds a bit different. There are a few songs on this album that (in my opinion) sound quite unusual for us. It’s still death metal, just a bit different.
Was there any deliberate direction and ideation taken in regards to its sound and intent or was it more an organic evolution emerging as A Skeletal Domain emerged?
We just wrote the song individually and gradually the character of the album developed. We didn’t really have a plan; we just tried to write the best music we could.
After so many releases and years is it easier to sculpt something original to the band or more difficult, with as we find in music in general ideas and sounds going in cycles as in fashion?
We definitely try not to repeat ourselves, but of course it happens anyway. But we do make a deliberate effort to make each song sound unique and fresh.
As you mentioned you recorded the album with Mark Lewis this time around after working with Erik Rutan for the previous trio of albums. What was the reason for the move and why specifically did you go with Mark?
We had gotten to know Mark pretty well since he lives in Florida like we do, and we thought he was a cool guy- so his personality was part of it. We also really liked the work he had done with bands like Six Feet Under, Deicide, and Devildriver. His skills, personality, and convenient location of his studio made him a perfect choice.
What has he particularly brought to A Skeletal Domain which is different to its predecessors and works most potently with your new ideas?
It’s hard to explain so it’s better for the reader to listen and compare. He just has a somewhat different approach to recording than our previous producers, and I think you can hear it right away.
Was a change of producer an early intent as songs and the album began coming together?
Yes, we decided at least half a year before the recording date that we would work with Mark this time.
How did the band approach the studio this time around and was it pretty much as you went into the recording of previous albums?
It was different, since it was a different producer and studio. We were well prepared, as we always try to be, but things did go a bit differently once we started. Mark is a great engineer and editor, and things went very smoothly during the recording. We had a great time and we’ll likely work with him again.
The album is sonically and lyrically as visceral as ever, as expected from a Cannibal Corpse provocation, what breeds the first seeds of songs more often than not?
The music comes first, then the lyrics. The songs are usually written individually at home by each song writer, and then once the song is finished or almost finished, the band will learn their parts and play the song together to see how it sounds. For each writer, the songs probably start out with a main riff and develop from there.
On this album Rob wrote music for 2 and 1/2 songs, I wrote 4, Pat wrote 5, and Paul wrote music for half of a song. The lyric writing was varied in a similar way: Paul wrote 6 songs, I wrote 4, and Rob wrote 2.
At times it feels from the outside that successful and established bands like yourselves come under a harsher and more predetermined focus from the major media spotlights. How have you found it and particularly in regard of A Skeletal Domain?
It’s hard to say. I think by now everybody already has an opinion about us and a new album is not likely to change that. The press that likes us still will, and same for the press that doesn’t like us. Their opinions don’t seem to be very flexible
Can you give us some background and insight into the imposing and startling video for Kill Or Become from the album?
The video was directed by David Brodsky; he created a concept based on the song’s lyrics and went from there. We think he did a great job. We’ve been writing about zombies since our first album, so I guess it’s about time we had a full-on zombie video.
As one of death metal’s leading lights and inspirations for seemingly ever, how do you see the expanding depth and diversity to the genre? Do you embrace and takes sparks from its ever growing expanse of exploration or prefer a more old school focus to feed your personal tastes?
I like anything that sounds good to me. Some newer death metal is amazing, and I still listen to plenty of the old stuff too. If it’s well-written and heavy I usually like it.
Listening to A Skeletal Domain there are seemingly essences from other genres and styles which flirt with ears and thoughts however slight and whispered they are. What are the inspirations outside of extreme metal which you would suggest have added something to the band sound or ideas over time?
We all listen to lots of different kinds of music so that probably directly and/or indirectly influences how we write. For me personally the classical music I’ve listened too might have an influence.
Where do you see Cannibal Corpse in the ‘family tree’ of inspirations and contributors to death metal?
Hopefully we are considered an important part of the death metal family tree, part of the 2nd wave after Possessed, Death, Master, Massacre, and other earlier bands.
What is left in 2014 going into next year for the band to devour and offer?
We’ll be doing lots of touring in support of A Skeletal Domain. We are currently on tour in Europe; next year we’ll do a big tour of Canada and the USA. So we have some big touring plans ahead.
Thanks again for sharing time with us. Any last thoughts you would like to offer us?
Thanks for the interview! We hope to see all of our fans on tour soon!
Finally is there anything grotesque and blood fuelled which the band has not yet explored but you have a yearning to attack at some point?
I don’t know! We’ll see when we start writing the next album.
Check out our review of A Skeletal Domain @ ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/cannibal-corpse-a-skeletal-domain/
The RingMaster Review 23/10/2014
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