Bloodlust wrappings and carnal tempting: talking Cannibal Corpse with bassist Alex Webster

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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?CannibalCorpse-ASkeletalDomain

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.

cannibal-corpse_photo02The 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?cannibal-corpse_photo06

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/

http://www.cannibalcorpse.net/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 23/10/2014

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Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain

byAlexMorgan_01

Cannibal Corpse and their sound need no introduction to metal fans and in many ways nor does the band’s new slice of savagery, A Skeletal Domain. The thirteen studio album from the US death metallers feeds all the wants and expectations of the genre and fans yet also manages within its contagious surface turbulence, to explore new twists of endeavour and vehemence soaked adventure in the depths of songs. The distinctive fury is a fresh if not startling evolution in the onslaught we have all come to know and assume from the band; one providing the rich flavours the quintet is renowned for whilst providing a breath-taking rampage through the senses to again seriously ignite the passions.

A Skeletal Domain also sees the band move from the production of Erik Rutan who added certain richness to previous releases Kill, Evisceration Plague, and Torture. For the new album, Cannibal Corpse has recruited the talents of Mark Lewis at Audio Hammer Studios who has produced the recent albums of The Black Dahlia Murder and DevilDriver amongst many. His touch allows clarity to the emerging twists of ideation and sound within the violations posing as songs. The elements are arguably still not as vocal and instantly striking as maybe they could be but they are allowed a platform to increasingly tantalise from by a production which seems clearer and more conducive to the enterprise than on earlier encounters.

Lyrically there are no surprises; blood, gore, and violence providing aural ‘horror movies’ within the sonic and rhythmic severity as immediately shown by opener High Velocity Impact Spatter. From an intimidating waspish sonic mesh of sound, the track pounds ears with some of the heaviest swung beats heard this year, every swipe thunderous within the brewing assault of corrosive riffery and psychotic sonic endeavour. There is no escaping that recognisable Cannibal Corpse toxicity or the addictive web spun by the guitars of Rob Barrett and Pat O’Brien. It is an intensive and contagious furnace exploding within the ears, driven venomously by the thick caustic growls of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and the increasingly intrusive beats of Paul Mazurkiewicz. There is always a ready and waiting hunger for the band’s sound and its appetite is potently fed by the song with extra flavouring from the swirling invention cast by the guitarists.

Both Sadistic Embodiment and Kill or Become seduce and ravage the air as well as senses with skilled animosity, the first a barbarous torrent of rabid riffery and bone splintering rhythms bound in a merciless predation. The bass of A Skeletal DomainAlex Webster growls spitefully from within the severe enticement, another aspect of the band given closer attention on the album compared to some earlier incitements. Its successor finds an even more bestial air to its prowling heavyweight presence, its muscles flexed through every hellacious swing from Mazurkiewicz and the venom unleashed through a horde of rapacious riffs and the increasingly contagious vocal suasion of Fisher. The track is a maelstrom of malicious enterprise, one threatening to become unravelled at times, especially around a senses searing solo, but always checks itself to parade a pestilential and irresistible scourge.

The title track tears through ears and imagination next, its intensive stomp flaring with malice and rhythmic sadism whilst vocally it sprays inhospitable emotion like a sand storm. A welcome variation in gait and intensity offers an intriguing turn whilst another potent solo flames excitingly across the track adding to the weighty fascination of the proposition. At first glance the following Headlong into Carnage is a close relation to its predecessor but eventually emerges with a distinctive tone and ruinous attitude which is as compelling as it is enjoyably oppressive.

The deranged and blackened suasion of The Murderer’s Pact is next, guitars crafting an addictive and destructive sonic trap to which vocals and rhythms make available their rewarding yet ruinous hues. It is an absorbing challenge, the band delving into tortured shadows with open relish and magnetic invention. The sonic ingenuity of the solo within its haunted climate is exceptional, not outstaying its potency but adding enough colour and radiance to light the cavernous malevolence of the song. Its triumph is matched by the pernicious lumbering atmosphere of Funeral Cremation, its increasingly expanding and toxic voice breeding an uncomfortable and invigorating onslaught of coarse sonic rabidity and rhythmic voracity. It is the winding groove of the song though which lights the passions most of all, its crawling temptation irresistible within the tempestuous climate around it.

The viciously chilling and tenaciously compelling Icepick Lobotomy and the enthrallingly inventive Vector of Cruelty ensure senses and emotions are ablaze with pleasure and breath-less satisfaction but it is after their outstanding efforts that the album hits its pinnacle, the final trio of tracks leaving the strongest lingering impression. Bloodstained Cement steps forward first and from its drama fuelled start unleashes an insatiable rampage of hypnotic rhythmic turmoil and contagion drenched riffery. There is a flowing addictiveness to the track which soaks every aspect of its unrelenting swarm of sound and ideation. The track is an exhaustive treat but soon surpassed by the brilliant Asphyxiate to Resuscitate. As expected there is no peace from its poisonous intent and rabid jaws, guttural growls and drums a finely honed and barbaric blitz on ears whilst guitars and bass combine to sculpt an impossibly infectious malignant gale.

The album closes with the hellacious creative fury of Hollowed Bodies, a last explosion of bad blood and ear seducing grooves within a back breaking intensity. It is a scintillating end to a mouth-watering release, seeing Cannibal Corpse at their best with very loud whispers of new exploits to tantalise within a recognisable presence and sound which fans will willingly embrace. The band’s best album can and will be debated but one of their most pleasing and enjoyable A Skeletal Domain definitely is.

A Skeletal Domain is available now via Metal Blade Records @ http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords/item/27304

http://www.cannibalcorpse.net/

RingMaster 17/09/2014

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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