[Photo by: Alex Morgan]
“It sounds like it’s gonna melt your face,” says Cannibal Corpse vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher of his band’s new album, Red Before Black. “Like a fucking chainsaw to the face.”
Red Before Black is the veteran death-metal group’s fourteenth LP, and their tenth with Fisher on the mic, out Nov. 3 on Metal Blade Records. This time, however, the chainsaw—still linked with the teeth of explicit, fever-dream nightmares and serial killer wordplay—comes with a bonus: a newfound catchiness. That’s right; the chainsaw, the one that will rip your face off, will lay its indelible riffs into your gray matter first.
“Catchy?” you may question indignantly at the prospect of a generally accessible Cannibal Corpse album. And you’d be right—on the surface. But the catchiness connected here isn’t the sidewalk shorthand for radio-ready or singalong acceptance. No, the catchiness evoked is a more arcane affair, a type that’s detectable only after a veritable lifetime of absorbing extreme metal music. (If you think you know Cannibal Corpse based solely on their cameo in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, you don’t.)
Fisher, the band’s growling, intimidating frontman since 1995, intimately measures the toe-tapping nuances of his group’s subversive compositions. Red Before Black’s first single, “Code Of The Slashers,” puts it on the line. “That song is a great example of the catchiness factor,” Fisher tells AP. “And I know that’s always been the taboo word in death metal, ‘catchy.’ But everyone loves it—everyone says, ‘Oh man, I remember that part!’ Well, then, that’s catchy, asshole! You can spin it anyway you want, but catchy isn’t a bad word.”
WARNING: Video contains graphic depictions of violence.
“I think this record has some of the catchiest stuff that we’ve done,” Fisher says. And the man knows a thing or two about public affability. After all, the vocalist made a notable social media splash when, in the face of Hurricane Irma in his home state of Florida this September, he posted a heartwarming pic of himself and his daughters housed in a local shelter. Just about every metal news site picked up on the underground celebrity’s snap of humble humanity.
“Better safe than sorry,” Fisher says of his relatable Instagram scoop. “Family’s first.” He kept it real with a familial reveal typically considered sub rosa: “I’ve never put a picture of my daughters on Instagram before, but I think a lot of people looked at it as more lighthearted. I mean, there’s a lot of people right now that are suffering. In Mexico, from the earthquakes; Puerto Rico and Southwest Florida, they got pretty smashed up and people lost lives. So I just put it on there. I think it helped people maybe cope with some of the things that were going on. Hopefully, that’s what it did.”
But don’t accuse Fisher of being social media-thirsty. “Nothing I do is publicity-minded,” Fisher says now of the post. “My daughters are not part of my publicity package. I don’t have one—my publicity package is my fat ass on the stage!” Thankfully, Fisher, his family members and his home are OK after the hurricane. (He says Cannibal Corpse members and fellow Floridians drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, rhythm guitarist Rob Barrett and lead guitarist Pat O’Brien all lost power during the storm.)
Fisher’s popular Instagram photo was a natural family snapshot, unprocessed and raw. Similar words could be used to describe Red Before Black, which captures the band with an organic, live-in-the-room feel. “It definitely has a raw edge to it,” Fisher says, describing the performance-minded nature of the record. “I always prefer a more raw sound.”
“Some of the songs that we’ve done on record and then done live for a number of years, I always feel like I’ve done better with them live,” says Fisher, further highlighting the new record’s exposed feel. “And I guarantee it’ll be like that with this album. There will be portions where I didn’t sing any high parts or any screams, but I’ll probably do them live, because I’ll feel it differently.”
Naturally, Cannibal Corpse fans will undoubtedly be there to take in any additional live-show grunts and growls from Fisher. Often cited as the best-selling death-metal band of all time, Cannibal Corpse’s fans have grown with the group over time. “That’s the best part about metal,” Fisher says, “it’s a genuine love for the music. Real metalheads, the diehards, are balding and fat, and we’re still at the shows banging our goddamn heads.”
Meanwhile, the band show no sign of stopping, and Fisher says it would take some unforeseen physical circumstance to get him out of the metal game. “Your body talks to you through pain, it tells you when it’s time to stop things. And I’ve got to knock on wood, I don’t have any neck or back issues from headbanging. We all wanna do this for as long as we can; we keep doing this because we love it.”
“Dammit, we worked our asses off on this album, and I think people are going to realize it when they hear it”
To that end, Cannibal Corpse will hit the road for a U.S. tour with Power Trip and Gatecreeper the day of Red Before Black’s release. “I think we’re going to probably have to play more songs than we normally would from the new record,” says Fisher. “We don’t try to overpopulate the setlist with too many new songs, because we know people want to hear the old stuff, but dammit, we worked our asses off on this album, and I think people are going to realize it when they hear it.”
And there you have it. The leading death-metal band in the nation—the ones from Ace Ventura and the ones with songs that sound like horror movies—worked hard on their new album, and they want you to hear it. Grab the raw but catchy Red Before Black this week, and let it do the dreadful work it’s meant to do: melt your face, overload your senses and get you headbanging to the brutal but morbidly beautiful tunes of extreme metal’s finest.
Like a fucking chainsaw to the face.