The First Chapter: Cannibal Corpse’s “Eaten Back to Life”

“Eaten Back to Life” wasn't just another album; it was Cannibal Corpse's entry ticket to the death metal big leagues. Recorded at Morrisound Studios, it stirred the pot with its raw sound and contentious lyrics.

Cannibal Corpse - Eaten Back to Life [FULL ALBUM]
Key Takeaways
  • “Eaten Back to Life”, Cannibal Corpse’s first album, was recorded in Tampa, Florida, at the renowned Morrisound Studios.
  • The album was produced by Scott Burns and finished within a short span of weeks, marking a quick production cycle.
  • The album gained attention for its violent lyrical themes, which frequently centered around female victims, aligning with the album’s aggressive musical style.

A New York Band in Florida’s Death Metal Haven

Cannibal Corpse, a name that’s become almost a rite of passage for death metal fans, laid down their debut album “Eaten Back to Life” at the famed Morrisound Studios in Tampa, Florida. But let’s rewind a bit. These guys didn’t start out in the Sunshine State. No, they cut their teeth in the snowy realms of Buffalo, New York. It was there that they honed their skills, playing local gigs and dreaming of something bigger.

So what made them pack their bags and head to Tampa? Well, it was the city’s burgeoning death metal scene, a mecca for bands looking to make their mark. And let’s not forget Morrisound Studios, the recording cathedral where legends like Morbid Angel and Death had crafted masterpieces like “Altars of Madness” and “Leprosy”, respectively. Alex Webster openly cited these albums as their north stars. The band saw the studio as hallowed ground, a place where they could tap into the same energy that fueled their heroes.

In essence, the move to Tampa wasn’t just a change of scenery; it was a pilgrimage. A journey to the heart of a scene that was redefining metal as we knew it. And as they set foot in Morrisound Studios, they weren’t just another band from Buffalo; they were a part of death metal history in the making.

A Month in Morrisound

Ah, May 1990—a month that would go down in death metal history. Cannibal Corpse teamed up with none other than Scott Burns, the man with the Midas touch for all things brutal. Burns wasn’t just a producer; he was a cornerstone of Florida’s death metal scene, having worked with the likes of Obituary and Deicide. If you wanted your album to be a death metal staple, Burns was your guy.

Burns wasn’t just a producer; he was a cornerstone of Florida’s death metal scene, having worked with the likes of Obituary and Deicide.

Now, let’s talk about Morrisound Studios. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill garage setup; it was a state-of-the-art facility. The studio was decked out with the latest technology, ensuring that every guttural growl and every blast beat was captured in pristine quality. But it wasn’t just the tech that made Morrisound the go-to place; it was the vibe. The studio had an atmosphere that was both professional and laid-back, allowing the band to focus on their craft without any distractions.

And let’s not forget the time crunch. The album was recorded in just a few weeks, proof of both the band’s preparedness and Burns’ efficiency. They had a vision, and they executed it with surgical precision. No time for second-guessing or endless retakes. This was death metal, raw and unfiltered, captured in a setting that understood the genre’s nuances.

The Anatomy of Brutality

If you thought death metal was already pushing the envelope, “Eaten Back to Life” tore it to shreds. The album was a sonic assault, aiming to outdo the graphic storytelling and visceral imagery of predecessors like Death and Carcass. It wasn’t just a collection of new songs; it was a carefully curated experience. The album featured five tracks from their 1989 demo, which had already garnered a cult following, and added six new cuts to the mix.

Now, let’s talk about Chris Barnes, the man behind the microphone. His guttural growls weren’t just for show; they were a vehicle for some of the most gruesome tales ever put to music. And where did he draw inspiration for these lyrical nightmares? Look no further than newspaper headlines and horror flicks. That’s right, songs like “Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains”, “Edible Autopsy”, and “A Skull Full of Maggots” weren’t just catchy titles; they were ripped from the pages of tabloids and scenes from grindhouse cinema.

And it wasn’t just the lyrics that were brutal; the music itself was a force to be reckoned with. The guitar work was intricate yet punishing, the drumming relentless. This was a band that understood the power of dynamics, shifting from breakneck speeds to slow, churning riffs that gave listeners a momentary respite before plunging them back into chaos.

The Controversy Behind the Lyrics

Controversy—the lifeblood of any genre that dares to push boundaries. And “Eaten Back to Life” had it in spades, especially when it came to its lyrics. The album’s themes often featured female victims, a choice that didn’t sit well with everyone. Cue the debates and the raised eyebrows.

Both Alex Webster and Chris Barnes were quick to set the record straight. They weren’t out to be the poster boys for misogyny. According to them, the lyrics were crafted to complement the album’s violent musical landscape, not to send shockwaves through the listener’s moral compass. Barnes even went on record saying that the lyrics were not designed to shock people but to match the violent music. It was about creating a cohesive experience, not courting controversy.

And let’s not forget, Cannibal Corpse was far from the first band to delve into graphic storytelling. They were part of a long tradition of bands that used extreme themes to match their extreme music. Think Slayer’s “Angel of Death” or Carcass’s “Reek of Putrefaction”. The aim was to create a vivid, albeit disturbing, narrative that went hand in hand with the music.

So, while the album did stir the pot, it also opened up conversations about the role of lyrics in extreme music. It forced fans and critics alike to question where the line should be drawn, and whether it should be drawn at all. In doing so, “Eaten Back to Life” became more than just a collection of songs; it became a focal point in the ongoing dialogue about the limits of artistic expression in metal.

The Art of Horror

The album cover of “Eaten Back to Life” is a feast for the eyes, if you’re into that sort of thing. Crafted by Vince Locke, a horror comic book artist, the artwork is as intense as the music it represents. It features a zombie in a grotesque act of self-cannibalism, gnawing on his own ribs and intestines. This wasn’t just shock art; it was a visual manifesto that set the tone for the auditory onslaught inside.

And if you think this was the peak of Locke’s artistic endeavours with Cannibal Corpse, you’d be wrong. This was merely the opening act, the first brushstroke in a gallery of horror that Locke would create for the band’s future albums. His artwork would continue to evolve, each piece more shocking and intricate than the last, solidifying his role as the visual maestro behind one of the most extreme bands in metal history.

The artwork for “Eaten Back to Life” wasn’t just a cover; it was a declaration of intent. It signaled to fans and newcomers alike what they could expect when they pressed play, serving as a visual overture to the band’s brand of brutal death metal.

They dedicated the album to Alferd Packer, the first American to be convicted of cannibalism.

But the band took their commitment to the macabre even further. They dedicated the album to Alferd Packer, the first American to be convicted of cannibalism. This wasn’t just a random shout-out; it was a calculated move to align the album with real-life horror stories, adding another layer of gruesome authenticity to their work.

From Underground to Iconic

The album’s reception was more than just a pat on the back; it was a full-on embrace by the underground death metal community. With its blend of relentless riffs and breakneck tempos, “Eaten Back to Life” stood out as one of the most twisted offerings in the death metal landscape of its time. It wasn’t just a collection of songs; it was a statement, a declaration of Cannibal Corpse’s intent to push the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in metal.

“Eaten Back to Life” stood out as one of the most twisted offerings in the death metal landscape of its time.

The album’s impact wasn’t limited to just critical acclaim; it also helped the band build a dedicated fan base. This was no small feat, given the album’s controversial themes and graphic content. Alex Webster once said that as long as the band didn’t have to clock in at 9-to-5 jobs, they considered themselves successful. And indeed, the album’s success allowed them to focus solely on their music, setting them on a path that would make them one of the most enduring acts in death metal history.

The album’s influence extended beyond its initial release, serving as a gateway for many fans into the darker, more extreme corners of the metal genre. It wasn’t just an album; it was an initiation, a first step into a world that many had never dared to explore. And for Cannibal Corpse, it was just the beginning of a career that would see them become one of the most iconic bands in the history of extreme metal.