What can you still write as an introduction to a CANNIBAL CORPSE interview? Not much, can you... ? Already since the beginning of the nineties, this band belongs to the absolute top in Death Metal and it looks their position is not going to change very rapidly. "Gore Obsessed", their eighth studio-album sounds surprisingly fresh without losing any brutality. I had already interviewed vocalist George Fisher and bass-player Alex Webster in the past, and so it was nice surprise to catch drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz this time. Paul is someone who's making his standpoint clear with much detail and when listening to him, it's very obvious that he puts his heart and soul into Death Metal and that he's still very enthousiastic about our beloved kind of music...
"We have started to write the material of "Gore Obsessed" around January last year. We have continued to work on the songs until we entered the studio in June. Everything actually went really smooth, we even did a small tour in the middle of the writing-process. Normally we don’t do things like that, when we start on something, normally we finish it first, be it tours, writing songs or whatever. It was a bit different this time but in the end everything worked out fine."
“Gore Obsessed” got produced by Neil Kernon, somebody who’s actually more known from his work with Power Metal bands. It’s not exactly a very evident choice...
"Well, originally Colin Richardson would produce this album again but a month before we would go into the studio he backed out. We only had a month, so we had to find a producer fast. We only had a few options and Neil was one of them. Pat, our guitar-player, had already worked with him before when he was still playing in NEVERMORE. Pat was already very used to the material in the studio which was of course a big advantage. Neil has produced about fifty albums in his studio within the last eight years. He already has quite some experience and we had a good idea what he was capable of. Neil is not a producer of very heavy albums, the heaviest things he has done so far are probably the NEVERMORE albums. What convinced us in the end to go ahead with him was the MACABRE album "Dahmer". We really liked the sound of that album, “Dahmer” really helped us in taking a decision. We all were convinced that "Gore Obsessed" would sound better than "Bloodthirst" and it also does."
I have to agree. “Gore Obsessed” sounds much more clear which does the new material really good. A track like ‘Pit Of Zombies’ really illustrates this very clear...
"Yeah, "Gore Obsessed" is to my opinion also the CANNIBAL CORPSE album with the best singing-performance of George so far. As you said, it’s more clear but at the same time also more powerful. It sounds much more intense."
The playing and recording of this pretty extreme music that you guys play, how do you keep that interesting for yourself? I mean, there are not that many possibilities to experiment, the boundaries for this kind of music are rather limited...
"Death Metal is indeed somehow limited. On the other hand we always succeeded to keep it a challenge. All of our albums sound different but you can still hear that it’s CANNIBAL CORPSE from the very first second. It’s our way of development. We take a small step forward with each album without noticing or being aware of it too much. Our musical territories are limited and we understand that, but we don’t have any problem with that. It’s the small things on each album which do the trick and make us sounda bit different each time. We keep progressing with each album. It can be a certain riff which we didn’t play before, small things which you will notice as long as pay enough attention to it. A good example is ‘Pit Of Zombies’ which you already mentioned: it’s CANNIBAL CORPSE but it’s also totally different from everything we did in the past. The riff that you can hear in the beginning of the song gives a totally different feeling to it. Nevertheless it still sounds very brutal."
Do you think – as a musician – that CANNIBAL CORPSE gets enough credit for the music you play? I can imagine that there are still many people out there who think that your material is absolute garbage although you shouldn’t underestimate your stuff to my opinion. Especially the technical skills in the band...
"Probably not. As you just said, many people still think our music is pure noise and don’t even give it a chance. Because they don’t like the music, they are convinced that we also can’t be good musicians. So, if you look at it that way, we’ll probably never get the credit we somehow deserve but there’s not much we can do about that. The only thing we can do is just continue and keep putting out good records. There are a lot of people who maybe don’t necessarily like our stuff but who are still capable to look through it and can appreciate what we do. Our songs are really not that easy to play, unfortunately not everybody realises that."
I’d also like to talk a bit about the Christmas festivals which you did in December last year. Normally you would have co- headlined these shows together with KREATOR, but apparently there must have been some kind of argument with the result that KREATOR backed out on the day you were supposed to play in Belgium. KREATOR cancelled their shows for the rest of the tour. Could you give me your view on what happened there?
"The tour with KREATOR was originally booked as a co-headlining tour. During the first part of the tour, we were on the road with just KREATOR and KRISIUN. During the second part of the tour, all these additional bands came along and the tour continued under the banner of the Christmas festivals. Originally, it was the intention that during the tour, we were supposed to play as a headliner. But Johan of Metalysee proposed to us and KREATOR to flip-flop the headliner-position every night. On the first night we would headline, on the second night KREATOR and so on, we would change headline-position each night. We didn’t have any problem with that but KREATOR did. They wanted us to play as a headliner every night and so that’s what we did during the first part of the tour as a favour for them. When the festivals were beginning, we thought that KREATOR and us should flip-flop as a headliner each night and that it was now up to KREATOR to do us a favour, since we already did what they wanted during the first part of the tour. But they absolutely didn’t want to headline those Christmas shows after there had already played like seven bands before them and so they backed out after a couple of days. This is how I see it, I don’t know if there was more up to it, but I think that was the main reason. KREATOR didn’t want to play as the last band."
I’ve noticed that during those Christmas festivals, you played quite a couple of songs which you hadn’t played for a long time like for example ‘The Undead Will Feast’...
"Yeah, we also played ‘The Bleeding’, ‘The Pick-Axe Murders’ and ‘Addicted To Vaginal Skin’ which was quite a long time ago. It was somehow refreshing and I guess we will do things like that in the future more often. With each new album, it gets more and more difficult to put a setlist together. We are really at the limit at this moment. Each night, we play about 18 songs, we try to play at least 2 songs of each album and maybe a little more of the new one. This will get more and more difficult in the future. Stuff I like playing very much personally are the fast songs like ‘Pounded Into Dust’ and ‘Devoured By Vermin’ or a more slow one like ‘Unleashing The Bloodthirsty’."
I’ve visited your shows for many years in Germany, nowadays I always go to your shows in Belgium. I still remember as if it was yesterday the many problems you started to have when this woman Christa Jenal showed up and started to make your life miserable. Apparently she was convinced that you were a danger for the German youth and she started a whole crusade against your band. What’s even more strange is the fact that her voice got heard because up to this day your first three albums ("Eaten Back To Life", "Butchered At Birth" and "Tomb Of The Mutilated") are still on the black list and can’t be sold in Germany. You’re also still not allowed to play any songs of the first three records during German shows. Do you think there’s any chance that this situation will change soon?
"I don’t think so because as far as we know it’s still forbidden. It’s not that this woman is present at our gigs all the time, that she keeps watching us and that she’s watching over our shoulder all the time. But officially we still can’t play any songs of the first three albums in Germany. I really hope that this will change somewhere in the future because it is really ridiculous! It’s also a pity that of all countries it just has to be Germany, one of countries where – ironically – we sell the most albums. I just can’t understand how one single woman can ruin something like that for a whole country… When we play in Germany, the German fans would also like to hear one of the older songs like for example ‘Hammer Smashed Face’. And we also want to play the song but we’re not allowed... Tracks of more recent albums like for example ‘I Will Kill You’ or ‘Perverse Suffering’ are just as ‘bad’ and apparently she doesn’t have any problems with those songs. It really makes no sense, there’s no logic behind it whatsoever. All this started like 7 or 8 years ago but luckily she didn’t stop us in keep putting out albums and touring in Germany. All the things she did and the actions she did didn’t stop us. Our fans don’t start killing each other through listening to a song like ‘Hammer Smashed Face’. They visit a gig, they have a good time and they go back home. Maybe someday, it will all pass or go away, who knows..."
Interview: Steven Willems All pics by: Alex McKnight
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