If you were an Aussie fan of Cannibal Corpse in the 90s, well you were shit out of luck. The Australian government at the time, in all their wisdom, put a blanket ban on all things Cannibal Corpse. No music, no posters, nothing. If you wore a CC shirt anywhere, it was considered contraband. The movie Ace Ventura faced censorship or a ban of its own because these metal titans were in it for an entire minute.
So when bossman Browny asked if I wanted to chat with drummer and founding member Paul Mazurkiewicz, not gonna lie, I may have gently filled my pants a little. In celebration of their monstrous 15th studio album Violence Unimagined (out this Friday, April 16th) via Metal Blade Records, I woke up at sparrows fart, chucked on my professional-looking Clark Kent glasses and awaited Paul’s arrival to our zoom chat.
Paul is a top bloke. Easy going, laid back and happy to talk about the death metal game of which he’s been at the forefront of for over 30 years. It was a trip chatting with a legend I’ve idolised since high school five thousand years ago. Not to mention that this was also my first ever interview, and here I was, doing my best to not carry on screaming like a Taylor Swift fan (more on her later), and conduct myself in a fashion befitting a knowledgeable and respectful metal journalist I jumped straight in with a discussion about the band’s 30+ year reign in death metal, in which they have delivered some of the most gruesome and offensive material this world has ever seen. From general mutilation, necrophilia, dead babies, (and that’s entry level stuff for Corpse). I ask after all this time, where do the guys go from there? Do you guys walk in the studio and go, let’s see how messy we can get, how disgusting we can be? To which Paul cheerfully replied:
“We just do our thing [which is] to come up with material within the confines of being Cannibal Corpse. Obviously we’re not straying too far from our subject matter. It’s gonna be horrific horror stories. You know we have plenty of great songs, great titles and great subject matter and a lot of it could be looked at as a little redundant here and there. I think it’s just a matter of coming up with something a little bit new and fresh. In our eyes anyways.
To me, the whole horror/gore aspect, the lyric writing anyways, it just comes down to whatever we come up with. Like the title for the most part. We’ve got some title we wanna use that’s pretty graphic, well of course the song more than likely is going to be pretty intense… We just look at it, as long as it’s horrific and dark in some manner.
We’re just doing our thing, which is pretty good that we’ve been able to do it for over 30 years.
And when it comes to Cannibal Corpse‘s subject matter, NO ONE comes close to their extreme levels of horror and gore when writing and producing music. Not to mentions the gruesome and at times banned album covers created by Vince Locke that are the stuff of nightmares (or wet dreams if you’re Ed Gein, Ivan Milat or my mate Geoff). But how far is too far for the band that constantly pushes to see where their thresh-hold of fucked-up-ness is with a sea of decapitated torsos sporting a two-middle-fingered salute? Is there any subject that’s potentially off-limits for the masters of grotesque?
Turns out there is.
“You know never really for the most part. I mean you know we’re obviously not going to get very religious at all. I mean I think we’ve got like one song. Something that barely touches on religion. I remember that was when Jack was in the band when we did ‘When Death Replaces Life’ and I co-wrote that with him lyrically. You know so we’re not a religious band or a satanic band for that matter, obviously. We really don’t seem to stem in that way. Mostly what it comes down to is being true to life non-fiction stuff. I mean look at our lyrics, 95% of it is fictional horror stories. We have a couple of times, here and there, [said] that something may be loosely based on something that really happened, or you throw in something that’s actually like wow, we’re touching on something that really happened per se, and that’s very rare of course.
Upon reflection though, in those moments when he’s written something that’s made him go “what the fuck?” he brings it all back to the band and their purpose from day one:
“I know I’ve written some crazy lyrics that I just go ‘where did that come from?’ kind of thing. Like it’s not really me of course but while I’m in Cannibal Corpse and I’m writing pretty crazy songs, you know every now and then you might have to dive off into the deep end and go ‘well you know, let’s put that in there.’ None of us are really sitting around thinking of these sort of things on a daily basis or have that thought process. So I would think pretty much everything is on the table for the most part, whether it may end up in songs or not, that’s one thing but you know we’re Cannibal Corpse, so it better be pretty intense, right?”
“We’re not going to try and get too realistic and write about exactly what’s happening in the world, or what’s happened in the world or things of that nature.” Paul Mazurkiewicz on how far is too far for Cannibal Corpse‘s subject matter.
Regardless of Paul’s clarifications, there’s always going to be someone butthurt about what the boys are doing. Political correctness is running rife these days and the band have been on the receiving end of everyone from the Australian and German governments, through to religious groups and a bunch of Karens back in the 90s before Karens were even a thing. But how does a band like Cannibal Corpse succeed in a world that’s drowning in cancel culture and the ongoing censorship that’s plagued their entire career? I asked him whether he thinks something like cancel culture is ridiculous and if he’s ever worried about it affecting the band:
“Yeah of course that’s ridiculous. Just like the censorship, that’s always been ridiculous to us. I mean come on, we’re a band. We’re a fictional horror band. Look at our album covers. They’re not real… They’re artwork and it’s pretty crazy fantasy art for the most part. Come on people these things can’t happen you know. I mean this is like a horror movie, or a short story or a book for that matter. So it’s always been ridiculous to us, stuff like that.
Then there’s this cancel culture thing, I just heard about that not long ago and I’m like ‘what’s going on here?’ Everybody seems to be offended by everything. If it’s not 100% PC these days then people have a problem with stuff. It’s getting out of hand I think.”
In a move to appease the gods of censorship, Metal Blade requested that two album covers be developed by the legendary Vince Locke as a pre-emptive response to the inevitable onslaught of people that are hell bent on being offended on behalf of everyone else.
It’s a win for people who love buying multiple copies of albums like Violence Unimagined, that in addition to the two covers, there is, from my last count, at least 18 variations of the colours available on vinyl. The covers though, well the original design is disgusting and I love it. The other one, it’s disgusting but just not as disgusting and is the one more likely to grace the shelves at Walmart. As a fan and a collector of such things, it’s going to put a huge dent in the Credit Card.
As if the pedigree of this iconic band wasn’t enough they’ve also enlisted the help of one of the heavy genre’s most iconic producers and guitar players, Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal/Morbid Angel), who joined the lads officially as a guitarist in addition to producing the album. I had to ask if having a musician of this calibre join the lads on the album set a fire under their arses with this latest offering:
“Yeah a little bit. Obviously we’re doing what we’re doing regardless of who is in the band… It’s just fresh. We’ve known him for so long, it’s not like this brand new guy that we didn’t know before so of course he’s been a friend of ours for years, produced so many records, been on tour with us, toured with us for his bands, so now what we’re getting is Erik’s take on what Cannibal Corpse would be in his eyes. Of course he’s contributing and he did on the album with the three songs that he did and those are all basically him. So, in a way it’s just exciting and fresh [and] another flavour basically that we’ve never had before.”
“He’s a great guy, great worker, great guitar player. He wrote some great songs and it’s been a challenge to play his stuff and fun to learn somebody else’s take on what Cannibal Corpse would sound like in their eyes. It’s been positive all round having him for sure.
Paul couldn’t speak highly enough about their latest member (who also produced the band’s previous albums KILL, EVISCERATION PLAGUE, TORTURE, RED BEFORE BLACK and now VIOLENCE UNIMAGINED) and the flawless brilliance in which he learned the back catalogue for their live shows.
“I’ll never forget the first practice we did with him to start doing the tours when he filled in for ‘Red Before Black”, and he came to practice and he had to learn the old songs and it was like ‘Damn dude, you’re playing them better than we’ve ever played and it’s like you’ve been playing them for 30 years like we have, and better. I mean it was like WHOA, what an awesome feeling that is when a guy is going to step in like that. It’s like a seamless transition.”
I asked what it was like looking out from behind the drumkit with him playing alongside the band for the first time and realising you’ve got this perfect fit, to which he replied:
“…when you’re up on stage then… you see Erik and the guys that we’ve got and it’s like, what a perfect fit. He’s the man. He’s the man for the job. This is a no brainer to us. He was the one and only choice.”
Now we know Cannibal Corpse like singing about smashing a persons face in with a hammer whilst shedding their human skin on a brain removal device, but when it comes to finding his happy place, what does he zen out to? (Browny demanded I ask him if he put on the headphones and chilled to Taylor Swift). But when discussing Paul’s guilty listening pleasure, it turns out that the great man has got rad taste:
“Ohhh man I’m gunna tell you, man. I know they were huge in Australia too, they were big. This is obviously just me. I’m not speaking for anyone else and nobody else here. I, ever since, I think probably their first album came out in ’95, I LOVED, The Presidents of The United States of America. I love that Band, they are my…I love that band.”
Of course he loves TPOTUSoA. I mean who doesn’t want to move to the country and eat me a lot of peaches with Kitty. I mean she’s lump, she’s lump, she’s in my head…
“Chris Balou, the singer you know, the main guy, he’s just a phenomenal songwriter and I just love everything he does. That is my band. That is really the newest band that I can say that I really really like. Other than Greta Van Fleet. I do love Greta Van Fleet.”
So there you have it Ladies and Gents. Behind every mutilated zombie baby song is a legendary drummer with a heart of ghoul’d. (Boom Tish).
So check out Cannibal Corpse new album Violence Unimagined which is out this Friday via Metal Blade Records as written and performed by the nicest blokes you’ve never met. If you’re reading this, you know what you’re in for, that’s why you’re here you sick bastards. Plus, you know the saying. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Well, this album has two covers and the band sounds like they’re beyond the point of giving a fuck as to whether you’re judging them or not. For more insight into the blessed mind behind some of the most tasteless horror music on earth check out the full interview below. Cheers
Interview by Duane James @duanejamestattoo
Pre-Order Violence Unimagined here
Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined tracklisting:
1. Murderous Rampage
2. Necrogenic Resurrection
3. Inhumane Harvest
4. Condemnation Contagion
5. Surround, Kill, Devour
6. Ritual Annihilation
7. Follow the Blood
8. Bound and Burned
9. Slowly Sawn
11. Cerements of the Flayed
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