Torturing has reached a level
No one’s ever seen
Suffer for your life
Rabid force extreme
—From “Demented Aggression”
Pioneering death-metal quintet Cannibal Corpse has accomplished much in its 24 years of existence — sold millions of records, been banned from playing Germany, made a cameo appearance in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” and recorded a little ditty called “Meat Hook Sodomy.”
The Corpse never coasts, though. The band was born in 1988 in Buffalo, relocated to Tampa in ’96, and tours more than ever now. After the band switched vocalists — from Chris Barnes to George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher in ’95 — drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, a founding member, has increasingly shouldered the lyrics-writing burden.
“When George came in halfway through our recording session, brand new as he was then, the three of us took it upon ourselves to handle the words,” says the drummer. “Come to find out, George isn’t a lyricist, and someone had to bear the brunt. It was something I dabbled in and loved as much as playing guitar and drums. I’d written lyrics for bands I was in before Cannibal. So I embraced the role.”
With a vengeance, some might say. Hard as it is for younger readers to believe, before gory, torture-porn horror flicks like “Saw,” there was only Cannibal Corpse to answer life’s important philosophical questions like: When a serial killer chains you to his underground bathroom, leaving only a hacksaw to free you, which part of the foot is softest?
Indeed, the mere titles of Mazurkiewicz-penned songs — “Dead Human Collection,” “Frantic Disembowelment,” “Carrion Sculpted Entity” — are enough to induce nausea. And when (or if) you hear the lyrics at a Cannibal concert, gutturally spewed by Fisher and put to highly technical and eardrum-lashing riffs and blast-beats, you’ll pray for a quicker death.
Or you’ll buy a T-shirt and CD at the band’s merch table afterward.
Indeed, Mazurkiewicz, 44, has written some pretty good songs over the years. That doesn’t mean you’ll find him in the horror section at Barnes & Noble searching for a throat-ripping read to inspire him. He looks to nonfiction — history, science, biography — for his literary kicks. And the personae and scenarios in his lyrics? They stem completely from his imagination.
“Look, I know there are great writers out there, as far as metal lyrics go,” he says. “But when I’m writing, I just do my thing. I’m not trying to mimic someone else or to borrow something from the outside to bring in and adapt.”
After the band works out the musical components of a song, Mazurkiewicz says he’ll sit down with a title the riffs seem to conjure — “Demented Aggression,” for instance, from Cannibal’s acclaimed 12th album, Torture, released in March. What do the words mean? He approaches the lyrics in a percussive, metrical way, deciding where to place them in a song’s inherent rhythmic patterns. Word choices are largely pre-determined.
What else can “Demented Aggression” evoke other than pummeling, pounding carnage? “If imagined people have to fictitiously die in my songs,” says Mazurkiewicz, “so be it.”
Political and personal views have no place in Cannibal’s brutal fantasies. The band relishes taking people into a different, darker reality, not preaching to them about the evils of organized religion, war or global warming.
While the band’s lyrics were once shocking enough to raise Sen. Bob Dole’s ire in the ’90s and get their CDs removed from stores in other countries, Cannibal isn’t nearly as reviled in 2012. They’re widely embraced. Today, for instance, you’ll spot 16-year-old girls sporting Tomb of the Mutilated T-shirts, a once-impossible sight.
“It’s a different era now,” admits Mazurkiewicz. “Our early music is nearly 30 years old, and you’ve heard our name even if you haven’t heard our music. As long as people are into our music and not just wearing Cannibal shirts to rebel, great. Who could’ve speculated we’d get far enough as a band to even think about this issue?”
It’s been “too long” since Mazurkiewicz and his Corpse cohorts played Louisville, which means he anticipates a rager of a show.
“When you arrive in a city you haven’t played in forever, fans are appreciative. From what I remember of Louisville, this will be a cool time.”
Cannibal Corpse with Misery Index, Hour of Penance, Created to Kill, and End It With a Shotgun
Monday, Dec. 3
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road
$20; 7:30 p.m.