A quarter century of heavy metal mayhem

Grind-gore stalwarts Cannibal Corpse celebrate Metal Blade’s anniversary

This year one of music’s longest-running independent labels and a metal label at that celebrates its silver jubilee. Founded by Californian Brian Slagel in 1982 as a means of releasing local bands he enjoyed — little ol’ bands like Metallica Slayer and Gwar — Metal Blade Records is celebrating its anniversary in true metal style — with a raging month-long behemoth of a tour featuring luminaries such as The Black Dahlia Murder The Red Chord Goatwhore and The Absence. Of course no one could be better suited to headline this blood feast than the world’s biggest most consistent-selling grind-gore band Cannibal Corpse.

Fresh off a whirlwind tour of South America in support of its latest effort Kill the band hopes for a less tumultuous time on the anniversary stint. The Columbian dates found the Corpse in situations ranging from unbelievably great to unforgettably bad — their final show ended in a riot police intervention theft of band property and food poisoning.

Guitarist Pat O’Brien is honoured to be a part of the relatively hazard-free Metal Blade 25th anniversary tour. “It’s terrific to be able to say we’re a part of this history” he notes. “Then again we’ve been with the label for so damned long it’s kind of obvious. Out of all the bands on the label we’ve probably been with them for the longest. It’s gotten to the point where our deal gets better and better with each album so there’s no reason to change. It’s not broken why fix it right?”

In conjunction with the tour Metal Blade plans the release of a commemorative DVD filmed at the 2007 New England Metal Fest as well as select re-vamped releases of key catalogue titles including Cannibal Corpse’s 1996 full-length Vile the first effort to feature current vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. O’Brien admits that while the band had little say in which effort would receive the celebratory treatment the choice was obvious.

“Selecting an album to re-release for the anniversary would be tough given the lengthy history of the band” he says “but Vile makes sense right now because it was the first album with George and Rob (Barrett guitar) was back in the band. Because of that it was obviously the best album to go with. People think some of the classic Chris (Barnes former vocalist) stuff deserves to be re-released but that would be kind of rude to George. I’m glad they re-mastered it too. Initially it could have sounded better in the mixing. Then again I wasn’t on ( Vile ) so it doesn’t matter to me.”

Rounded out by bassist Alex Webster and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz Cannibal Corpse has yet to complete the touring cycle for Kill . To that end O’Brien offers fans a strong caveat — there will not be a revised set list in favour of Vile material despite the re-release and Metal Blade Anniversary tour. Still O’Brien is keen to wrap up Kill and progress into new material. Riding out a lengthy life cycle the album has kept the band on the road for the better part of two years. He sighs when he envisions the final notes of the last anniversary show.

“We’re still supporting the Kill album so (the Vile re-release) is just an addition to that” he says. “To us it’s still all about Kill and it will be until the anniversary tour is finished. After that we’ll start writing full-force on the next album. We’ve toured more for this album than any other album which is weird because as bands get older they tend to tour less. This album though it just won’t die.”