AOTW: Cannibal Corpse – Eaten Back To Life (1990)

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Cannibal Corpse is a relatively well known band, probably the most popular Death Metal band of all time. Anyone who’s seen¬†Ace Ventura: Pet Detective movie will remember a scene at the bar full of greasy headbanging metalheads and Cannibal Corpse on stage.

The band has acquired a certain reputation among the general public thanks to the gory album artworks and graphic song titles and lyrics. The band didn’t get much love in the Metal community either, where the band’s aesthetics didn’t cause any problems, but the musical output was never considered to be that good.

In the past my reaction to Cannibal Corpse’s music consisted mostly of boredom. I was in middle school when my older friend first introduced me to the band, so I’ve been aware of them for some time, but could never get into their music. However, I recently read favourable reviews of the band’s early albums and so I decided to give them a proper listen. Eaten Back To Life, the band’s debut, was the one that stood out for me.

This album is quite different from the rest of the records put out by Cannibal Corpse, main factors being production, vocal performance and the song writing approach. The production here is quite raw, yet very clear. The guitars have that old school Death sound: they are not particularly thick, but still quite low and heavy at times. The overall mix is quite good: the listener doesn’t have to strain to hear one instrument or another.

The vocals from Chris Barnes sound very different from the follow up albums. Here his voice is dry and raspy, which I think works quite well with the overall sound of the album. Another interesting aspect of this album are the drums – they are fast, but you will not hear a single blast beat, which seems unthinkable given the bands later output. In my opinion Cannibal Corpse created more problems than anything by starting to include blast beats in their songs – they are way too distracting and really don’t add much to the overall sound.

The record consists of 11 tracks and clocks in at around 36 minutes. Curiously, the first two songs, Shredded Humans and Edible Autopsy play out for almost 10 minutes. These are the only tracks where Cannibal Corpse chose to add some sort of a build up at the beginning and so these two compositions are the most memorable on the album. The rest of the songs jump right to business and, with an average play time of under 3 minues, they don’t necessarily stand out, but they also don’t over stay their welcome.

Since a lot of the tracks are so fast paced and short, they sort of blend in together and it’s pretty hard to tell them apart, even after several listens. So,¬†rather than hearing individual songs, it’s better to listen to this album as a whole and it’s a worthy listen – there are a lot of memorable riffs on here.

Overall this album manages to create a dark atmosphere reflected in the cover art. The music also possesses a lot of raw energy, characteristic of output from a young band. And so, if the music doesn’t leave the listener in a fear induced stupor, it can add a spring to one’s step and create a weird desire to head over to the closest graveyard and party with the living dead.

Prophecy of the wisemen of old
Now comes true, as the corpses break the soil
Ancient spell breaks the sleep of the dead
The dead awake, what the populace is fearing
Panic strikes as the nations run in fear
Oceans boil with blood of human victims