Metal Blade Records has set April 14th as the date for limited edition vinyl releases from CANNIBAL CORPSE (Evisceration Plague picture disc), CATTLE DECAPITATION (The Harvest Floor picture disc), and BISON B.C. (Quiet Earth gatefold LP).
BW&BK's Greg Pratt spoke to Cannibal Corpse guitarist Pat O’Brien recently about their new album Evisceration Plague. Part I of the story can be found here
. Check out Part II below:
One would think that at this point in their career, Cannibal Corpse would have songwriting down to a science. And they do, but they are also mixing that up. And again, they’re smart for doing so, because all these changes seem to be breathing new life into this Corpse.
“That’s getting refined, or how should I say it? That’s changed too (laughs). Alex did a lot of his writing at home on a computer and he would come in with tablature written out, and there’s this program called Guitar Pro where he writes a lot of stuff on, and he sends me stuff on email, and I learn his riffs like that. Me, I’m still kinda old school, I like to go down and hash things out with Paul. So it was a little different, but Alex was definitely on a big writing kick this time and it worked really well for him and he was kicking out a lot of tunes; it was really hard to keep up with him. One of the good things is we definitely weren’t sitting around wondering what to do about ideas; there were lots of ideas flying around.”
No doubt some people would think that sheet music and writing on a computer is not true death metal… “I used to think that way too,” says O’Brien, “but it depends on how you utilize that kind of stuff. You can dement anything you want (laughs). Look what people have done to movies.”
So speaking of the songwriting, it sounds like this time around the majority of the writing came from Alex. O’Brien confirms that is the case.
“Yeah, he wrote the majority of it,” he says. “He was on a writing kick. Every time we were done with a song he’d be like, ‘Well, I’ve got another song.’ It wasn’t that I had a bunch of ideas lying around that I wanted to use anyway. Like I say, I have more of an old school frame of mind where I like to go down and hash things out with Paul, and Alex already had all this stuff at home; he was writing a lot at home and bringing it to practice and that’s taking up time with Paul. But it’s a good way to write, really. It’s the best way to do it. I can’t discipline myself to write that way. Maybe I need to try (laughs). It’d be better if I could. He definitely wrote a lot of stuff; Rob (Barrett – guitars) wrote stuff, I wrote stuff, Paul wrote stuff. If we had more time, we could have done a double CD with all the material we had going. We just ran out of time for writing; we only allow ourselves so much time to write then we have to get in and do an album.”
“If Alex is flowing and he’s got the ideas, I say let him go with it,” he continues. “It is kinda funny to think we can keep coming up with ideas, if you want to think about technically writing the same kinda shit for the last 20 years. We just try to explore different things with different scales, try new things. I think that’s what keeps it fresh.”
The band recorded Evisceration Plague with producer-in-demand Erik Rutan. O’Brien says the recording process went relatively smoothly but there were a few small snags, mainly regarding learning the difficult material Alex had brought to the table.
“On my end, for example, some of the stuff Alex wrote, I underestimated how difficult certain things were going to be,” he says. “When you’re in the studio you’re under a microscope. The more time you spend in the studio the more you’re zooming in on every little thing. I was thinking, well, we got a lot of time booked, we had almost two months or something like that. I was thinking it would go by smooth. Wrong. Well, it did and it didn’t (laughs). It was just incredible. I thought we’d be done early, but we never are. I think if we had six months to do an album, it would take us six months to do an album. I really do. Once you get in there, you start analyzing every little thing.”
But O’Brien says that having too much time in the studio can be a problem too. I’m sure we can all think of a few releases that have been borne of lengthy studio sessions that just suck; sometimes less is more in the studio.
“I know bigger bands have spent so much time in the studio, I hear about the budget they have and it’s just insane. I think, ‘This should be the best shit ever,’ and it’s usually crap. I’m not gonna mention any names. Some of the same bands, their earlier albums where they went in and busted it out, they’re incredible.”
Like I said in sentence one, Cannibal Corpse are the granddaddies of death metal. Is there a certain amount of pressure that comes with that? And does the band ever feel the pressure?
“There’s a bunch of up-and-coming new bands that sound great and you definitely have to keep up,” says O’Brien. “There are certain areas where we’re not going to be able to go where other bands have gone. But we don’t want to; we’re Cannibal Corpse and we’re just gonna do what we do. There is that pressure, but you can’t really be totally freaked out by that because that can be counterproductive. We just do what we do, and if we enjoy doing it and like what we do, hopefully other people will too.”
Other people do, no doubt: Cannibal Corpse is the one death metal band that has infiltrated the mainstream, at least in name if not by the music itself. And their fanbase is rabid and huge. And like we said earlier, it’s been an astonishing 21 years for these guys. When does it all end?
“I don’t know, it’s always been a couple more albums, but that’s always a couple albums ago (laughs). It keeps going on and on. I’ve thought that too: when does it end? I guess whenever we decide it ends. Hopefully. Look at bands that have long careers. Motorhead, for example, they’ve been doing for it years. No one cares. Lemmy’s old, they don’t care. He’s just old biker-looking dude or whatever, but it works for him. I don’t know if that will work for us, but I guess we’ll grow into whatever we’re going to grow into.”
Check out the entire feature here